Thursday, January 4, 2018

Glaucoma: The Basics

The optic nerve is what transmits visual data from the eye to the brain.

When the optic nerve is damaged, our vision suffers. A group of conditions that threaten the optic nerve is glaucoma. In the Canada, glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss and blindness, affecting three million people. Because January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, we wanted to give our patients a basic understanding of the condition.

The Internal Pressure Of the Eye

Normally, aqueous humor (the fluid in the front chambers of the eye) is able to drain away at the same rate it is produced, keeping everything balanced. Glaucoma occurs when the drainage canals become blocked. Pressure begins to build, which eventually pushes the lens back. This, in turn, causes the vitreous humor (the fluid in the larger rear chamber of the eye) to press against the blood vessels and optic nerve, damaging them.

The Different Types Of Glaucoma

The two most common types of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. At least 90 percent of all glaucoma cases are open-angle. Rarer types of glaucoma include congenital (from birth) and traumatic (caused by injury), and there are several others.
Open-angle glaucoma develops very gradually, as the drainage canals of the eye become clogged and the fluid isn’t able to drain effectively. What makes open-angle glaucoma so nefarious is that it rarely has noticeable symptoms. The peripheral vision gradually goes dark, but the central vision remains sharp, so it may seem like nothing is wrong until the condition has advanced. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are essential, particularly after age 60 (or earlier if there is family history of glaucoma).
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris itself blocks those drainage canals, causing a much more sudden rise in pressure and obvious symptoms, such as headaches, eye pain, nausea, rainbows around lights at night, and very blurred vision. If you experience these symptoms, come see us immediately. We can also check if your angle is wide or narrow to determine whether you’re at risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma.

Stopping Glaucoma In Its Tracks

The lack of early symptoms in the vast majority of glaucoma cases might seem scary. The good news is that as long as you come in for your regular eye exams, we can detect glaucoma much earlier than you can, and then we can treat it. Before age 60, it’s usually enough to have one eye exam every two years, but people over 60 should schedule them once a year. Your individual risk factors may require more frequent exams.

Help us help you keep your eyes healthy for life!

For more information or to book an appointment, visit us at
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Optometry Giving Sight Leads Global Coalition to Support World Sight Day Challenge

11th year of the Challenge!

Our team at Hollyburn Eye Clinic is thrilled to participating in the World Sight Day Challenge again this year. We are fundraising throughout October and have some amazing draw prizes with all proceeds being donated to Optometry Giving Sight.

Global eye health and vision care are more important than ever in light of recent natural disasters including major hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and their aftermath. As people deal with these and other health crises, leading North American optometric companies, networks, schools and practices are once again joining a coalition led by Optometry Giving Sight in support of World Sight Day (October 12, 2017) and the World Sight Day Challenge, which runs through October.

This is the 11th year of the Challenge, which encourages all members of the vision care community to make a donation or participate in a fundraising event to help fund sustainable eye health projects for people who are needlessly blind or vision impaired. These include support for projects that will help give sight and hope to more than 1 million children as part of the Our Children’s Vision campaign - and this year, in recognition of recent events, projects providing eye care to people affected by the hurricanes in our region.

“If everyone does just one thing in support of the Challenge we can make a huge difference in the lives of millions.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Eye Health & Exam Frequency – School-age children

School-age child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. For school-age children, several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly. If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will need to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue. Often the increased visual demands of schoolwork can make greater demands on a child’s visual skills, pointing out a vision problem that was not apparent before school. The child may not realize they have a vision problem, they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do.
A vision-related problem may cause some or none of these symptoms:
  • headaches or irritability
  • avoidance of near or distance work
  • covering or rubbing of the eyes
  • tilting of the head or unusual posture
  • using a finger to maintain place while reading
  • losing place while reading
  • omitting or confusing words when reading
  • performing below their potential
  • holding objects close to their face
  • sitting close to the television
  • short attention span for age
Conditions that may emerge during this stage in your child’s life include myopia or nearsightedness(blurred vision when seeing objects at a distance), hyperopia or farsightedness (blurred vision when seeing objects up close) and astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances).
If your child has had a sight or vision screening at school, know that not all eye tests are created equal, and that this should not replace a comprehensive eye exam. Tests or screenings done at school cannot be used to diagnose an eye-health or learning related vision problems. Studies show that vision screening tests have high error rates; with many children with vision problems being able to pass a vision screening test.
Protect your child’s vision by booking a comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry. Your child should have a complete optometric eye exam at six months, before starting kindergarten, and annually throughout the school years to ensure optimal eye health and developmental progress, or if you notice any of the symptoms listed above appearing between appointments.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your child’s optometrist will perform a series of tests that will determine the quality of their vision and overall health of the eye. These tests may include:
  • Slit lamp: This is a high-powered microscope that allows the optometrist to look deep inside your child’s eyes, ensuring the cornea, iris, lens and blood vessels in each eye appear normal and healthy.
  • Manual refraction using a phoropter: A phoropter is a machine that allows your child to view objects through a variety of lenses to see what combination is the clearest. It helps determine if your child requires a prescription for glasses or not.
  • Stereopsis: Various tests are used to see whether your child’s eyes are working together, one of those tests uses 3D glasses.
  • Visual acuity: Using eye charts made up of letters, symbols, tumbling E or pictures, your optometrist will ask what your child can see. This helps the doctor determine how clear your child’s vision is.
  • Colour-blind test: Using a variety of patterns and colours, your optometrist will ask your child to identify the objects or numbers hidden within. If your child is colour blind, the patterns will appear different than they would for a person with normal colour vision.
  • Retinoscopy: Your optometrist will use a target and ask your child to focus on that target while the optometrist shines a light in their eye. The optometrist will flip through a variety of lenses. This test helps determine the lens prescription.
  • Binocular Vision Testing: This includes a number of tests including a ‘cover test’ and checking that all of the extra-ocular muscles are functioning properly.
In addition to scheduling your children for regular comprehensive eye exams, your doctor of optometry is available to discuss various topics. Many are available for urgent care appointments (pink eye, eye injuries, etc.), they can help treat allergies, and can discuss eyewear solutions with you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

More kids show eye strain from digital devices, optometrist warns parents

A Calgary optometrist says she's seeing more cases of digital eye strain among kids and, as they head back to school, now is the best time to get that problem sorted out.

"We're seeing it more for them than we have in the past," said Andrea Lasby.

"So where it used to be primarily a millennial — 20-, 30-, 40-year-old problem — we're kind of seeing it intergenerational at this point, including children."

The root cause could be parents who don't understand the effects on children.

Not taking breaks

An online survey commissioned by the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) revealed that 59 per cent of parents in the province "are not aware of or do not encourage their children to take steps during or after using digital devices to reduce the impact on their eyes."

"Digital eye strain is the discomfort experienced after screen use for more than two hours at a time," Dr. Jim Asuchak, practicing optometrist and president of the AAO, said in a news release on the study.

"Alberta children are, on average, spending at least double that amount of time on digital devices, and we are seeing the results in our exam chairs."

Kavan Shergill, 8, sitting for an exam with Lasby, said his eyes have been dry and itchy lately and that he gets headaches, especially after spending time on his iPad.

"I'm trying to not go on it, but like, I can't," he said. "It's hard." 

Eye irritation and blurriness can impair learning

According to Lasby, Shergill's symptoms are all early signs of digital eye strain.

She says the long-term impacts are not yet known because it's such a new phenomenon, but the irritation and blurriness can impact learning in the classroom.

"Children oftentimes don't know what they're feeling is inappropriate or that it's not normal, so they don't complain. They just think blurriness, that's normal," said Lasby.

"Or perhaps they say 'I'm reading, it's blurry, I don't feel like doing this anymore,' and now they're hyperactive and they move around a lot, so sometimes that hyperactivity is a misdiagnosis and it can be an eye problem."

How to avoid eye strain

Parents can also encourage children to take preventative measures at home and at school to reduce the risk of digital eye strain, including:
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule by looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
  • Don't hold screens too close, especially for long periods of time.
  • Eliminate screen glare by reducing overhead lighting.
  • Position computers slightly below eye level and at arm's length.
  • Increase text size on digital devices.
  • Adjust screen brightness.
Teens spend almost 8 hours daily on digital devices

According to the AAO survey, Alberta parents said elementary school-age children spend more than four hours each day using digital devices at home and at school. For teenagers, that number increases to nearly eight hours each day.

Lasby says symptoms can be treated with eye drops, special eye glasses and blinking exercises. She said there are also apps that can adjust the colour temperature of screens to reduce the impact.

The AAO's survey was conducted online through the polling firm Angus Reid from July 13 to July 18 among 506 Albertans with children under the age of 18.

For comparison purposes only, a random sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to book an appointment, please visit us at

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Myopia Connected to Sleep Hormone

An Ulster University study has found higher levels of the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin, in individuals with myopia than in those who are not short-sighted.

Scientists assessed melatonin levels in a group of 54 young adults over an 18-month period before publishing their findings in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.

Melatonin levels were measured between 8.30am and 10am in the morning, with study participants fasting from 10pm the previous evening.

Researchers discovered that those with myopia had three times the levels of melatonin than those without the condition.

The long-term aim of the research is to determine whether sleep patterns are linked to short-sightedness, and to explore whether sleep pattern management could be used as a low-cost way of managing myopia.

Ulster University lead researcher, Professor Kathryn Saunders, emphasised that while having a myopic parent plays a role in whether a child is short-sighted, the rate at which children are becoming myopic suggests that there are more factors involved than genetics alone.

“Our modern lifestyles are also having a significant impact. Even mildly short-sighted eyes are at future risk of a number of serious, sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and cataracts,” she emphasised.

“Our research suggests that the body clocks’ of the short-sighted adults in our study were different, which is exciting because if these differences are also found in children, they may help us better understand which aspects of modern lifestyles are causing more children to become short-sighted than ever before,” Professor Saunders outlined.

Previous Ulster University studies have shown that children who spend less time outdoors are at an increased risk of becoming myopic and highlighted that there are now twice as many post-primary school-aged children in the UK diagnosed as short-sighted than there were 60 years ago.

If you have any questions or concerns about your eye health, please contact us at

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Healthy Foods For Healthy Eyes

We’ve all heard that eating carrots will improve our vision. They may not give us super night vision, but eating them can help keep our eyes healthy.

What we choose to eat is one of the most important variables to our health. It affects our weight, our energy levels, our risk of many types of disease—the list goes on and on. Today, the item on that list we’re most interested in is how diet affects eye health.

Important Building Blocks Of Eye Health

Our eyes need certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to maintain peak functionality, so the foods we eat can make a big difference to our vision, especially in the long term.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Studies have linked these two nutrients to a reduced risk of chronic eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The best sources of them in our diet are eggs and leafy greens.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain function and a strong immune system, and research has shown that they play an important role in visual development and retinal function. The top source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, although they are also present in many other foods.

Vitamins C and E
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant that may lower the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and loss of visual acuity. Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, but most other fruits and vegetables also contain it. Vitamin E is another antioxidant. It protects our eyes from dangerous molecules called “free radicals” that disrupt healthy tissue. Nuts and sweet potatoes are great sources.

Vitamin A and Zinc
The mineral zinc is an important “helper molecule” for all kinds of healthy processes in our bodies, including transporting vitamin A from the liver to the retina. No matter how many carrots we eat, the vitamin A is useless without zinc. Oysters have by far the most zinc per serving of any food, but it’s also present in other meats, beans, and nuts.

Vitamin A helps our eyes convert light into brainwaves and is integral to the structure of the cornea (the clear structure at the front of the eye). Vitamin A deficiency leads to blindness in between a quarter and half a million children every year.

So how do we get vitamin A? By eating foods with beta-carotene, vitamin A’s key ingredient. That’s where carrots come in, but it’s present in other yellow, orange, and leafy green fruits and vegetables. It’s actually what gives them their color!

To learn a bit more about Vitamin A and how carrots affect our vision, watch the video below:
Eye-Healthy Recipes
Knowing what foods are healthy for your eyes is one thing, but finding great recipes is another! Try this baby carrot soup for a delicious way to get that much needed Vitamin A, or this roasted wild salmon and dill for your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Do you have any additional eye-healthy recipes to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Diet Is Only One Piece Of The Puzzle
Eating all the right foods to promote healthy eyes is certainly a great step, but it’s not a replacement for regular eye exams. Problems unrelated to nutrition can still occur, and early detection is crucial for dealing with those problems. If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, one of our Doctors of Optometry would love to see you!

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Back-to-School Primer on Contact Lens Care for Teens

Another summer behind us, another school year just ahead. So much to do to get ready.

As you rush around getting new school clothes and school supplies, don’t forget to schedule your student’s back-to-school eye exam. This is an essential step for school readiness because poor vision can be a barrier to learning. Which might be why August is Back to School Eye Health Month.

What if my child wants contact lenses?

Wearing contact lenses can help teenagers feel more confident in their appearance. Contact lenses are also a great option for sports. These are advantages during this self-conscious age.

How do I know when my child is ready for contact lenses?

There’s no “right age” to begin wearing contact lenses — almost anyone of any age can wear them. But it involves a level of responsibility and ability to follow a wear-and-care routine. If you feel your child can responsibly care for lenses, then talk to their eye care professional to discuss options.

What’s a good lens for a first-time teen wearer?

Many eye care professionals recommend starting with a lens that’s worn for one day. They are worn once, then thrown away. This makes them great for teens and other first-time wearers, and for your peace of mind.
But it really depends on what’s best for your child’s eye care needs. Be sure to ask your eye care professional for a prescription that is best for your child, whether it be a lens that is worn for one day, for two weeks of daily wear, or one that’s designed for one month of daily wear. As long as your child follows a proper wear and care regimen, they will likely have success.

What, exactly, is a proper wear and care regimen?

A proper wear and care regimen is critical for contact lens success. The wear and care instructions are based on the lens and wearing cycle your doctor recommends. So follow your doctor’s recommendations for proper lens disinfection, and how often to replace them.
Regardless of what kind of lens your doctor recommends, everyone wearing contact lenses should always wash their hands before touching them, or their eyes.

Four tips every parent should share.

  1. New quarter, new case. It’s important contact lens cases be replaced at least every three months.
  2. Just say no to H20. Water from the tap might be clean enough to drink or bathe in, but it’s a major bacteria-carrying no-no when it comes to rinsing and soaking contact lenses or cases. Never swim, shower or go in a hot tub wearing contact lenses either.
  3. Think twice before snoozing. Unless the contact lenses are prescribed by your doctor for 24-hour wear, it is not a good idea to sleep in them.
  4. It’s too late if you wait. If you see any symptoms of eye infection, such as redness, pain or light sensitivity, see your eye doctor as soon as possible. Don’t take chances with vision.
We hope this answered all your questions regarding your teenager wearing contact lenses. If you still need help determining whether your child is ready for contact lenses, contact us!