Skip to main content

COVID Safety Protocols: Please refer to our safety guidelines here.

Home »

News

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read 640×350Reading involves the simultaneous coordination of a number of basic visual skills. For children who have not yet mastered some of these skills, reading can be an exercise in frustration, leading them to avoid reading altogether.

While many of us take our eyes’ ability to converge, focus and track for granted, those with underdeveloped visual skills often struggle to keep track of where they are on the page and to fully understand and remember what they’ve just read.

We’ve outlined four of the top vision-related reasons why children refuse to read, and how vision therapy can help your child become a more confident reader.

1. Eye Tracking Problems

Eye tracking is the eyes’ ability to move smoothly and accurately from place to place. Good eye tracking skills allow a child to keep their eyes on an incoming baseball or move successfully from word to word on a page of text without losing their place.

For a child with eye-tracking issues, eye movements will be slow and inaccurate, often seen as eye flickering or requiring extra head movements, to compensate for the reduced visual skill.

Poor eye tracking can cause a child to frequently lose their spot and skip words or even whole lines of text while reading. In this case, the child uses a lot more energy than their peers to simply keep track of where they are on the page, causing difficulty with reading comprehension and fluency.

2. Difficulties With Eye Teaming

Eye teaming is the eyes’ ability to work together to send accurate visual information to the brain. Although each eye sends a slightly different image, the brain is able to combine these two images into a single picture, allowing for three-dimensional vision and depth perception.

When children have problems with eye teaming, their eyes are unable to work together. They send two very distinct images to the brain, which struggles to easily combine the two images into a single clear, cohesive image.

A child attempting to read with eye teaming issues may experience eye strain, headaches or even double vision. Often, words on a page will look blurry or appear to ‘float’ on the page. Eye teaming difficulties may also cause the child to have a reduced attention span, and lead them to avoid reading or not read at grade level.

3. [Visualization] Problems

Visualization refers to the ability to see something in the mind’s eye even if that thing is not right there in front of us. This skill allows a child to recall words and remember how to spell words that they’ve previously seen. [Visualization] allows many of us to read a story and then ‘see’ the characters and events play through our mind as if we are watching a film.

For some children, however, this doesn’t happen. The brain has a hard time taking the visual information it’s receiving from the eyes and interpreting it into larger images and concepts. This can result in poor reading comprehension and may render that reading is a chore and an unenjoyable experience.

4. Issues with Accommodation

Accommodation is the ability to refocus the eyes each time we shift our gaze from one image or object to the next. This happens as a result of the swift and accurate contraction and relaxation of muscles in the eye to quickly focus and refocus as the eye moves.

In children with accommodation problems, the focusing muscles in the eyes do not smoothly contract and relax efficiently as their eyes move across the page from word to word or from a book (or screen) to the board and back. They need to stop and refocus their vision every time they read another word. This stop-and-start type of reading harms reading comprehension, and the constant need to refocus can cause headaches and eye strain.

So What’s The Solution?

All of the problems mentioned above are due to reduced visual skills and can be frustrating for children and parents alike. Fortunately, there is a solution: vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a personalized, doctor-prescribed evidence-based regimen of in-office and at-home eye exercises to teach your child’s eyes and brain to more effectively work together. Depending on your child’s needs, the customized program may include vision therapy aids such as prism glasses, devices and specialized therapy computer programs.

Contact The Eye Studio to help your child get back on track with their reading and learning.

The Eye Studio offers vision therapy to patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Contact Us For More Info
Call 403-352-8846

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye ‘Goodbye’

7 Ways to Wish Dry Eye Goodbye 640×350There’s no reason to suffer through the uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can accompany dry eye syndrome. Living with chronically dry, red and irritated eyes can affect your productivity and overall enjoyment of life.

That’s why we’ve put together 7 of our top tips for relieving dry eye syndrome.

1. Stay Hydrated

The tears are mostly made up of water, supplied by the tear glands. People need to drink enough liquid to maintain a stable tear film, so if your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated, your eyes won’t be able to produce sufficient tears and will suffer the consequences.

Keep your water bottle at arm’s reach throughout the day. You can even sip on juices, broths and dairy or plant-based milk to keep your body and eyes properly hydrated. Many health authorities recommend drinking between 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids per day.

If your eyes have been feeling dry or irritated, try limiting your alcohol intake because it is a diuretic.

2. Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears aren’t just great for making your eyes feel more comfortable; they also have protective properties that can prevent ocular surface damage from occurring or worsening.

The tricky part is choosing the correct drops for your specific condition.

By assessing your eyes, your eye doctor can determine what’s causing your eyes to be dry and recommend the most appropriate drops. There are numerous types of artificial tears on the market, and what may work for a friend or relative may not be the best option for you.

3. Up Your Omega-3 Intake

A healthy tear film consists of three layers: water, oil and mucus. An imbalance in any of these components can result in tears that evaporate prematurely. To ensure that your eyes can produce enough of the oils that stabilize your tears, include the recommended daily intake of Omega-3’s in your diet. You can take a supplement and/or eat foods like fatty fish, seeds and nuts.

*It’s best practice to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or introducing a new supplement to your routine.

4. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses not only reduce your glare symptoms and provide important UV protection but also effectively offer relief from dry eyes. Dry eyes are vulnerable to irritation from light winds that can dry out the eye’s tear film.

Whenever outdoors, wear a pair of protective wraparound sunglasses to minimize the effects of wind and seal out dirt and debris that can be carried in the breeze. For severe cases of dry eye syndrome, ask your optometrist about specific lenses or eye drops to provide even more relief from dry eyes.

5. Use a Humidifier

When the air around you is too dry, it pulls the remaining moisture from your tears, leaving your eyes feeling parched.

Humidifiers combat the dryness in any indoor environment by replenishing moisture in the air. Whether at work or home, use a humidifier to offset dryness, especially if you are using a fan, heater or air conditioner in the room.

6. Try Warm Compresses

Warm eye compresses are a great way to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate dry eye syndrome.

The gentle heat from a compress helps to soften any hardened oils that may be clogged in the little oil glands that line the eyelashes. Your oil glands will work more efficiently to deliver tear-stabilizing oils to your eyes’ surface once the glands aren’t blocked. Your eye doctor will instruct you on how to easily prepare a warm eye compress at home.

7. Visit Your Dry Eye Optometrist

Your [eye doctor] offers a range of successful options to treat your dry eyes to ensure you always have clear vision and comfortable eyes. Call your dry eye optometrist to have your eyes thoroughly evaluated and treated for long-lasting relief. There is a wide range of in-office treatments that can alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome and help your eyes feel refreshed.

To learn more about our dry eye services and schedule a consultation, call The Eye Studio in Red Deer today!

The Eye Studio serves dry eye patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: What are other symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Aside from redness and dryness, dry eye syndrome can also cause watery eyes, stinging or burning, stringy mucus, blurred vision, grittiness, light sensitivity and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating, and from occasional to chronic.

Q: Does dry eye syndrome need to be treated?

  • A: If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause eye inflammation, corneal ulcers or abrasions and even vision loss in severe cases. Dry eye syndrome also puts a person more at risk of developing eye infections. If you have any symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact us for a tailor-made treatment plan.

Contact Us For More Info
Call 403-352-8846

Why Ortho-K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK

Why Ortho K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK 640×350Most people elect to have refractive surgery like LASIK for the hassle-free, crisp vision it provides. But did you know that you can achieve the same results as LASIK without undergoing surgery?

Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as ortho-k, safely eliminates the need for daytime glasses or contact lens wear by correcting myopia (nearsightedness), and is a popular alternative to LASIK surgery.

What Is Ortho-K?

Ortho-k uses rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to gently and safely reshape the front surface of the eye, the cornea, for clear daytime vision. These specialized lenses are designed to be worn overnight while you sleep, and removed in the morning, leaving you with corrected, stable vision throughout the day.

These custom-designed lenses work by gently applying light pressure to the epithelial layer of the cornea and molding its shape to alter its focusing power.

What are the Advantages of Ortho-K Over LASIK?

Lower Risk of Complications

Any medical device or procedure involves some risk of complications. Both ortho-k and LASIK have associated risks, but those of LASIK are considered more serious.

LASIK complications, while rare, can leave patients with corneal disorders, such as astigmatism or severe dry eye syndrome and — more commonly — visual problems like glare, distortion and seeing halos around lights.

In contrast, the risks associated with ortho-k lenses are no different from those connected to any other rigid contact lenses. Poor hygiene is the biggest risk factor for developing contact-lens irritation and complications.

Orthokeratology is Reversible

LASIK surgery is not reversible, and in the event of complications, further medical procedures may be necessary to correct any resulting problems.

Ortho-k, on the other hand, is non-invasive and completely reversible if you ever decide to cease treatment. After a few nights of not wearing the lenses, your corneas will slowly revert back to their original, natural shape.

Better For Dry Eyes

If you have symptoms of dry eye syndrome like dryness and irritation, you may want to think twice before undergoing LASIK. A common side effect of LASIK is dry eye syndrome, and many people who already have the condition are advised to not have refractive surgery.

Dry eye syndrome can also make it uncomfortable to wear standard contact lenses.

Ortho-k is great for people with mild to moderate dry eyes because there’s no need to wear eyewear, such as standard contacts, during the day.

More Cost-Effective

Both LASIK and ortho-k will most likely save you money in the long term, as eyeglasses, contact lenses and other related expenses are no longer incurred. That said, in most cases, the up-front expenses of ortho-k lenses are about half the cost of LASIK surgery.

The exact cost of ortho-k lenses will vary depending on many factors and the degree of your refractive error.

Reduce Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, significantly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and macular degeneration later in life. The higher (worse) the myopia, the greater the risk. As myopia progresses and worsens, the risks further increase.

Slowing myopia can effectively reduce this risk. Myopia can continue to worsen into a person’s 20’s, and at least 10% of nearsighted adults from ages 20 and older will still experience some degree of myopia progression.

Ortho-k has been clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults, making it an excellent treatment for nearsightedness.

LASIK, on the other hand, offers no such benefits. Refractive surgeries simply alter the focusing power of the cornea to produce clear vision, while ignoring the underlying problem that causes the eyeball elongation associated with myopia.

LASIK is only offered to those whose eyes have stopped growing, usually people 21 and older. So, unlike ortho-k, it generally cannot slow the myopia progression in teens and young adults.

In fact, many teenagers and young adults who are interested in eventually choosing LASIK use ortho-k lenses to stabilize their myopia and increase their chance of successful LASIK outcomes in their 20s, once their eyes stop growing.

Interested in Ortho-K? We Can Help!

If you are interested in correcting your vision without surgery or the need to wear daytime contact lenses or glasses, contact us to learn if ortho-k lenses are right for your eyes and lifestyle.

At The Eye Studio, our friendly and knowledgeable optometric team will guide you through all of your options and help you achieve optimal vision.

To learn more about ortho-k or to schedule a consultation, call The Eye Studio today!

The Eye Studio offers myopia management to patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: Who is a candidate for Ortho-K?

  • A: Children (ages 8 and above) and adults with mild to moderate nearsightedness/astigmatism who want clear vision without daytime eyewear are great candidates for orthokeratology. Ortho-k is also a great option for athletes who require stable vision without worrying about eyewear that can be damaged.

Q: Are there any disadvantages of Ortho-K?

  • A: Ortho-k lenses must be cleaned after each use to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of contact lens-related problems. Occasionally, ortho-k lenses aren’t suitable for patients with very high prescriptions.

References

Book Online
Call 403-352-8846

My baby has a blocked tear duct – what does that mean? Learn with Dr. Jason Holtom

Hi everybody. It’s Dr. Jason Holtom from The Eye Studio. And today I want to talk to you about blocked tear ducts.

So the tear duct is also called the nasal lacrimal duct is a system that actually starts in the eyelids. There’s a little hole that drains the tears called puncta. These holes connect to a tube towards the side of your nose and down your nose in the back of your throat.

And in 5% of infants, it’s actually pretty common that you’ll get a blocked tear duct.

And really what happens is just part of the tissue just never opened up. It’s really common. It’s nothing to worry about. There’s no long term side effects, but we will wanna talk about what those things to watch for. Most of these kids will actually get better on their own within the first year, but there are some signs to watch for.

And so probably the hallmark sign is the teary watery eye. Just one side, especially just keeps watering all the time and it can be swollen. And generally we’ll see some crusting or some discharge, usually a green snotty discharge along those eye ashes that will keep them almost stuck shut. The problem of those are also symptoms of other things like infections and other things. And so if you’re in doubt, just give us a phone call at the office. We can always bring you in for a consult. You can also send us a picture. We can do a virtual consult. If you don’t live in the area, then you can also just see a local eye care provider.

How Concussions Can Affect Self-Esteem

How Concussions Can Affect Self Esteem 640X350When you consider the abundant functions of the brain, it’s no surprise that even slight damage to its sensitive tissues can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. Many people experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering a head injury. But how can you tell if your symptoms are serious?

If you or a loved one has ever experienced a concussion, we urge you to learn more about the emotional and physical side effects it may bring, and discover how a neuro-optometrist can help.

What Occurs During a Concussion?

The nerves of the brain are surrounded by soft and fatty tissues, and these fragile nerves are further protected by a layer of fluid and the bony skull. During a sudden and forceful jolt or bump to the head or neck region, such as whiplash, the brain continues to move while the head has stopped moving. This causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull or be shaken back and forth, resulting in a concussion.

This mild form of traumatic brain injury can damage or destroy brain cells, and may also negatively impact the healthy protective tissues surrounding the damaged cells.

Although concussions are considered ‘mild’ because they aren’t life-threatening, they can cause debilitating symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blurred vision, balance problems, confusion and emotional distress, among others.

The Link Between Concussions and Self-Esteem

A concussion can negatively affect emotional well-being and self-esteem, both directly and indirectly.

A post-concussion patient may find it difficult to do the things they once enjoyed, like exercising, reading, doing schoolwork or even watching TV. Withdrawing from these activities, even temporarily, may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and reduced self-worth. When you can’t read, concentrate or complete day-to-day activities as you once did, your limitations can become your main focus.

Concussions can also directly damage areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, directly affecting how a person relates to themselves and others.

A study published in Brain Injury (2014) concluded that a person’s self-concept may be impacted following a concussion/traumatic brain injury and that patients should seek treatment for emotional distress following a head injury.

Signs of Lowered Self-Esteem

Because each brain is unique, it’s hard to tell how a concussion will affect the patient, both in the short and long term. Here are a few signs that may reveal emotional distress and reduced self-esteem following a concussion:

  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Avoiding activities that were once enjoyable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling unloved or unwanted
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Negative self-talk
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Feelings of shame, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one displays any of the above symptoms, rest assured that help is available.

How We Help Post-Concussion Patients

Recovering from a concussion can be difficult, but neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help by improving the neural communication between the eyes and the brain and how an injured brain processes visual information.

Concussions can significantly affect the eye-brain connections, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, inability to concentrate, light sensitivity and headaches, as well as emotional distress.

A neuro-optometrist can improve the functioning of the visual system in ways that other professionals aren’t trained to, thereby reducing — even eliminating — these debilitating symptoms.

By training the brain and eyes to efficiently work in unison, visual skills will improve and you’ll find it easier to do things like reading, watching TV, using a computer and concentrating without taking as many breaks.

If you or a loved one has ever sustained a concussion, a functional vision evaluation may be called for to rule out visual dysfunction. Even if you’ve been told that nothing can be done by other health care professionals, we may be able to help, even years after the injury.

Let us help you get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call The Eye Studio today.

The Eye Studio offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: What other conditions can neuro-optometry treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometrists help patients who’ve survived a stroke, sustained varying degrees of brain injury or have a neurological condition that impedes visual function. All of these conditions can adversely impact visual skills and may cause symptoms that hinder independent functioning and reduce one’s quality of life. By rehabilitating the visual system, a neuro-optometrist can provide relief and promote a greater degree of recovery to these patients.

Q: Do all optometrists provide neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: No. A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry with specialized training in the area of visual system rehabilitation. A general optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and manages eye diseases and prescribes corrective lenses to patients. General optometrists do not have the training or experience to perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Contact Us For More Info
Call 403-352-8846

Can Vision Therapy Help Those With Autism?

Can Vision Therapy Help Those With Autism 640×350Visual problems in autistic children commonly go undetected and untreated. Often mistaken for symptoms of autism, visual problems can make it much more difficult for individuals with autism to process what they are seeing.

In a 2019 review of eye clinic records, the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus found that many autistic children have undetected vision problems.

“Among 2,555 children at a university autism clinic, about 11% had significant vision disorders, including strabismus (eye misalignment) and amblyopia, in which poor vision in one or both eyes results from abnormal early visual development,” the researchers said.

Vision Problems and Autistic Behaviors

Though many of the following autistic behaviors may appear to be unrelated to vision impairment, in reality, a high number of them are due to poor vision or visual skills.

  • Light sensitivity
  • Amblyopia/lazy eye
  • Lack of reciprocal play
  • Eye alignment (eye turns)
  • Common eye-rolling
  • Looking through/beyond objects
  • Difficulty accurately tracking moving objects
  • Inability to maintain eye contact with people
  • Visual stimming (flapping fingers in front of eyes)
  • Looking at objects from the side of the eyes
  • Extreme fear or absence of fear of heights

Vision Therapy for Children with Autism

Vision therapy is a proven treatment that strengthens the neurological connections between the brain and eyes to improve visual abilities.

A vision therapy program for an autistic child will help them improve visual processing, which in turn, will help them better understand their surroundings and improve associated behaviors, like anxiety.

Each vision therapy program is tailored to the child’s specific needs and includes age-appropriate exercises and activities.

Vision therapy tends to focus on improving the following skills in autistic kids:

  • Central vision
  • Peripheral stability
  • Efficient eye coordination
  • Visual-spatial organization
  • Visual information processing

Yoked or ambient prisms

Vision problems, particularly visual-spatial misperceptions such as bodies/objects/people moving in space, can make an autistic child feel frightened, confused or distressed, leading to certain behavioral responses like poor eye contact or looking beyond an object.

Yoked or ambient prism lenses assist autistic children in making better use of their vision. Prisms can enhance posture, balance, and attention almost immediately, thus considerably boosting the child’s sense of physical safety and comfort while reducing anxiety and sensory overload.

Prism lenses can be worn on a daily basis or for the duration of a vision therapy program, which generally leads to significant improvements.

The purpose of vision therapy is to make ordinary tasks easier to complete and reduce the challenges that both you and your autistic child confront on a daily basis.

Please note that vision therapy should be a part of an interdisciplinary strategy aimed at improving a patient’s capacity to function and enhance their quality of life.

The Eye Studio serves patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: How long does vision therapy take to work?

  • A: Although it varies from person to person, most children will see a difference within the first 10 weeks. Adult vision therapy takes a little longer because adult brains are less flexible than children’s brains.

Q: What is vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a specific program that involves a series of progressive therapeutic eye exercises that help patients improve their visual abilities. Their visual abilities improve as their eyes and brain communicate more effectively. It’s a one-of-a-kind, treatment program that’s usually combined with vision correction (glasses or contacts, such as in the case of myopia or presbyopia).

Contact Us For More Info
Call 403-352-8846

7 Questions And Answers About Astigmatism

7 Questions And Answers About Astigmatism 640×350If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you probably have some degree of astigmatism. But how much do you really know about this all-too-common refractive error?

Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about astigmatism and explain why scleral contact lenses are often prescribed to astigmatic patients.

1. What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common refractive error caused by a cornea that isn’t perfectly spherical. The cornea is the outer front covering of the eye and is partially responsible for refracting light onto the retina. When the cornea is misshapen, it refracts light incorrectly, creating two focus points of light entering the eye. Since the light is no longer focused on the retina, it results in blurred vision at all distances.

2. What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

The main symptom of astigmatism is blurred vision, but it can also cause symptoms like:

  • Objects appearing wavy or distorted
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Poor night vision
  • Frequent eye strain

3. How Common is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism affects approximately 1 in 3 individuals around the world. Most people with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) also have some level of astigmatism.

4. What’s the Difference Between Astigmatism, Nearsightedness and Farsightedness?

Although all 3 of these refractive errors negatively affect visual clarity, they are caused by different mechanisms.

Astigmatism is a result of a non-spherical cornea, which causes two focal points and blurry vision. Myopia occurs when the corneal focusing power is too high and the light focuses in front of, instead of directly, on the retina. Hyperopia occurs when the corneal power is too weak, so the light rays focus behind the retina, not on it. Both myopia and hyperopia can occur with a spherical cornea.

5. How is Astigmatism Corrected?

In cases of mild to moderate astigmatism, the blurred vision can be easily corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. But for patients with high levels of astigmatism, standard contact lenses may not be an option. Toric contact lenses are a popular choice for patients with mild or moderate astigmatism due to their unique focusing features and oblong shape. Scleral contact lenses are suitable for moderate to severe astigmatism.

Refractive surgery is also an option, but comes with the risk of surgical complications.

6. Why Can’t Individuals With High Astigmatism Wear Standard Contact Lenses?

A highly astigmatic cornea has an irregularly shaped surface that isn’t compatible with standard soft contact lenses. Standard soft lenses are limited in the amount of astigmatism they can correct, as these lenses move around on the cornea due to the cornea’s irregular shape. This, in turn, reduces visual clarity and comfort.

Regular hard lenses can often correct astigmatism better than soft lenses, but they, too, have limitations: these lenses are smaller and may also move around too much.

7. Why are Scleral Lenses Ideal For Astigmatism?

Scleral contact lenses are customized to each patient. They have a larger diameter than standard lenses, and thus cover the entire front surface of the eye. These specialized rigid lenses gently rest on the white part of the eye (sclera) and don’t place any pressure on the sensitive cornea, making them suitable for even highly astigmatic eyes.

Furthermore, scleral contact lenses contain a nourishing reservoir of fluid that sits between the eye and the inside of the lens, providing the cornea with oxygen and hydration all day long. In fact, patients typically report that sclerals provide sharper vision than other types of contact lenses.

Have Astigmatism? We Can Help

If you’ve been told that you have astigmatism and that your current contacts or glasses just aren’t cutting it, ask your optometrist whether scleral contact lenses are right for you.

At The Eye Studio, we provide a wide range of eye care services, including custom scleral lens fittings and consultations. Our goal is to help all patients achieve crisp and comfortable vision, no matter their level of astigmatism or corneal shape.

To schedule your appointment or learn more about what we offer, call The Eye Studio today!

The Eye Studio serves patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: Can a person outgrow astigmatism?

  • A: About 20% of all babies are born with mild astigmatism, but only 1 of those 5 babies with astigmatism still have it by the age of 5 or 6, at which point it is unlikely to diminish or disappear. Astigmatism can continue to change and even progress as the child grows, but tends to stabilize at around age 25.

Q: Can eye surgery cause astigmatism?

  • A: Yes. For example, cataract surgery may cause or worsen astigmatism as the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the cornea to replace the lens. During the healing process, the cornea may change its shape and lead astigmatism to develop.

Book Online
Call 403-352-8846

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Dry Eye Syndrome?

girl sitting in the pool 640×350Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. Sometimes the meibomian glands inside your eyelids, which produce the oily layer of your tears, don’t function properly or are blocked, causing your tears to dry out. Environmental factors, certain medical conditions and several medications can also cause DES.

Tears are essential for maintaining eye health and comfort. They moisten your eyes and remove debris. In severe cases, untreated dry eye syndrome can actually damage your cornea and cause vision loss.

The amount of dryness varies in severity from person to person. If you have a minor case of dry eye, you may be able to manage it with over-the-counter eye drops. However, if the problem persists or appears to be getting worse, it’s time to visit your eye doctor, who will assess your eyes, find the underlying problem and offer treatment for lasting relief.

Below is a list of complications that may occur if chronic dry eye syndrome isn’t treated:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis refers to infected or inflamed conjunctiva — the clear layer of cells that covers the white part of your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. Symptoms include grittiness, redness and sensitivity to light.

Keratitis

Keratitis refers to an inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by different types of infections, abnormalities of the eyelids, injury and dry eye. If the deeper layers of the cornea are involved, scarring or a corneal ulcer may result, particularly if left untreated.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an open sore that develops on the cornea—the clear, protective outer layer of your eyes.

While corneal ulcers typically develop following an injury, they can also be caused by severe dry eye.

On a daily basis, debris, like dirt and sand particles, enter your eyes and scratch the surface of the cornea. When your tear glands don’t produce enough tears to wash away the particles, bacteria can infect the scratch and cause an ulcer.

Luckily, corneal ulcers are easily treated with antibiotic eye drops. Left untreated, however, these ulcers can spread and scar the eyeball, causing partial or even complete blindness.

Inability to wear contact lenses

Unless your eyes produce enough good-quality tears, your contact lenses can become overly dry, leading to a gritty sensation, irritation and redness. Without sufficient moisture, your contacts may stick to your eyeball, making it difficult to remove them.

Though chronic dry eye syndrome may prevent you from wearing standard contact lenses, certain specialized contact lenses can improve ocular hydration and comfort.

Difficulty keeping your eyes open

Depending on the severity of dry eye, it may be difficult to keep your eyes open. This may occur if dry eye syndrome causes extreme light sensitivity or a chronic sensation that something is stuck in your eye.

While artificial tears may provide enough moisture to partially open your eyes, you may still feel the urge to squint, especially when exposed to a computer screen or sunlight.

Difficulty reading or driving

While blurred vision often signals that you need a stronger prescription, it’s also a common symptom of chronic dry eye syndrome.

Left untreated, the blurriness may worsen and even lead to double vision. Naturally, this makes driving and reading a real struggle.

Headaches

While there’s room for more research, studies have shown that there may be a connection between headaches and dry eye. A population-based case study of more than 72,000 patients published by JAMA Ophthalmology (2019) found that people who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to have dry eyes compared to the general population.

It’s not clear why. According to the paper, being female and of advanced age play an important role in determining the strength of this association.

Depression

A 2015 study, published in the journal Cornea evaluated the connection between dry eye disease and depressive symptoms in more than 6,000 women. Researchers found that women diagnosed with dry eye had a higher likelihood of developing depressive moods, anxiety, and psychological stress.

While the connection isn’t fully understood, researchers noted that some medications for treating depression have a drying effect on the eyes, and that dry eye syndrome may limit a person’s participation in activities, to the point where they may become anxious, withdrawn and even depressed.

If you have dry eye, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with The Eye Studio in order to find the best treatment options and thus increase the quality of your tears and life.

The Eye Studio serves patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, and Central, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: How do I know if I have dry eye syndrome?

  • A: If you experience itchiness, light sensitivity, tearing and tired eyes, it could indicate that you have dry eye syndrome. Get your eyes checked by an eye doctor, who will thoroughly diagnose your symptoms and offer lasting treatment.

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Various things can cause dry, itchy eyes. Some of the most common causes include blocked glands, environmental factors (wind, air pollution), infrequent blinking, certain medications, standard contact lenses and Demodex mites.

Contact Us For More Info
Call 403-352-8846

Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light? Consider Scleral Lenses!

Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light 640×350For some people, standard soft contact lenses are a great way to conveniently correct vision. For those with very dry eyes or corneal conditions like keratoconus, standard contacts simply aren’t an option.

Scleral contact lenses, however, are a great alternative for these patients with hard-to-fit eyes. They provide several benefits, such as reducing sensitivity to light (photophobia).

What Does Light Sensitivity Feel Like?

Patients with keratoconus and other corneal conditions tend to experience discomfort or unclear vision in brightly lit environments, even after undergoing treatment for their conditions.

They may see halos around lights while driving or may not be able to drive at all due to the worsening or clouding of vision that comes with light sensitivity. Bright fluorescent lights, like in an office setting, can trigger eye pain and interfere with their productivity and creativity.

Moreover, a photophobic person may not be able to comfortably look at a computer screen or other digital device. Even with the brightness setting turned all the way down, the light that’s emitted from the screen may be too intense.

How Can I Reduce Light Sensitivity?

While implementing the following suggestions can ease your symptoms of light sensitivity, we recommend that you speak with your optometrist for a more personalized approach.

  • Try to stay out of the sun whenever possible, but when you do go outside, wear dark sunglasses to block out the light.
  • Consider installing filters on fluorescent light sources.
  • Take frequent breaks when using a digital device.
  • Reduce glare in your home by turning mirrors away from light sources and keeping windows clean and streak-free. You may want to consider removing reflective surfaces from your home altogether.
  • Speak with your optometrist about whether scleral contact lenses can help you.

What are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Scleral lenses are larger in diameter than standard lenses and rest on the white part of the eye (sclera). Their large surface area vaults over the entire cornea (the eye’s top layer), and thus avoid placing pressure on the sensitive corneal tissue.

The scleral lens holds a reservoir of nourishing fluid between the inside of the lens and the surface of the eye, providing visual clarity and optimal comfort. In fact, many patients report that they are able to wear scleral contacts for longer amounts of time as compared to standard contacts.

Scleral lenses are customized to fit each individual eye, and are suitable for patients with keratoconus, dry eye syndrome, irregular/excessive astigmatism, Sjorgen’s syndrome, other corneal abnormalities and for those having undergone LASIK surgery.

How Do Scleral Lenses Reduce Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity, or photophobia, is a common side effect of several eye conditions, such as dry eye syndrome and keratoconus. When the cornea is irregularly shaped, it doesn’t properly reflect light onto the retina, which can lead to light sensitivity.

Thanks to their unique and customized design, scleral lenses act as a new, accurately curved cornea that is able to reflect light in a healthy way. Because of their large diameter, scleral lenses are more stable and have a wider optic zone than other lenses. They offer a more accurate perception of peripheral vision and help minimize glare and sensitivity.

An irregularly shaped cornea is not the only reasons one experiences photophobia. In fact, there are several conditions that can cause it. Your optometrist will determine what’s causing your discomfort through a comprehensive eye exam and will determine whether scleral lenses are the optimal solution for you.

The Eye Studio serves patients from Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, Central, and throughout Alberta.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jason Holtom

Q: How long does it take to adjust to scleral contact lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses are usually very comfortable right off the bat, but some patients may find that it takes up to 10 days to get used to the lenses. Your optometrist will guide you on how to shorten the adjustment period.

Q: How long do scleral contact lenses last?

  • A: Under normal conditions, scleral lenses last between 1 and 3 years — far longer than standard lenses. Your tear film composition and your lens care habits will influence your lenses’ lifespan.
Book Online
Call 403-352-8846

5 Important Eye Care Tips For Kids

Your child’s ability to see the world relies on healthy eyes. By teaching them how to care for their eyes, you help protect them from injury and ensure their eyes and vision remain healthy in the long run. Here are our 5 top eye care tips for kids.

Good Eye Care Habits for Children

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Water

A nutritious diet and healthy eyes go hand in hand. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, and prioritize foods rich in vitamin A found in green leafy and yellow vegetables. Eggs are also rich in important nutrients, containing vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, all vital for eye health.

Another thing to look out for is hydration. Proper hydration plays a key role in maintaining healthy eyes and a healthy body, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water (the appropriate amount will vary according to your child’s age, level of physical activity and weather conditions).

2. Wear Eye Protection

Physical activity is enjoyable and healthy, but make sure your child is wearing the right protective eyewear, like safety goggles, anytime they participate in sports or activities that could cause an eye injury (i.e. playing ball, hockey, carpentry). Wearing a helmet for sports like riding a bicycle protects against concussions, which can result in lingering vision problems, and are usually preventable.

Furthermore, provide your child with good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Staring directly at the sun, or the light rays reflecting off water and snow, can potentially cause retinal burns, in addition to long term damage.

3. Give The Eyes a Rest

Staring at the school board and school books all day, followed by playing video games or watching TV in the evening can cause eye strain. Be sure your child gets sufficient sleep to allow their eyes to rest. Replace evening activities with those that don’t require intense eye focusing: going to the park, playing outdoors with friends, or simply lying down with their eyes closed while listening to music or an audiobook.

4. Reduce Time Spent on Digital Devices

Spending time on digital devices and staring at screens is an integral part of our lives. Playing video games, watching videos on their smartphones and playing computer games, all require the eyes to fixate for extended periods of time, which can lead to digital eye strain, headaches and even dry eyes.

Experts believe that the number of hours spent on screens is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic. Try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screen by getting your child to participate in other activities, such as sports. If you are worried about the hours your child is spending on a screen myopia management can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

5. Get Their Eyes Checked Regularly

School-aged children’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, until the late teenage years. Left uncorrected, poor eyesight can interfere with learning, and cause behavioral and attention issues.

Getting a routine eye exam is important as it can uncover vision problems, detect eye conditions early on, and significantly increase the odds of preserving long-term eye health. For those who wear glasses or contacts, it’s important to check for any changes and update the prescription as needed.

Ensure your child’s eyes are being cared for properly by scheduling an eye exam with The Eye Studio in Red Deer today. Your child’s eye doctor can further educate them on eye safety and answer any questions you or your child may have.

Q&A

My kid frequently rubs their eyes. Is that bad?

Kids often rub their eyes, especially if they have allergies, irritated eyes, or they feel like something is stuck in their peepers. Rubbing can scratch the cornea, and transfer bacteria from the child’s hands to their eyes, causing an eye infection.

Instead of rubbing, have them wash their eyes with cool water to flush out any foreign body or irritant, and ease inflammation. If the problem persists, contact your child’s optometrist.

Other than reducing screen time, is there anything else I can do to maintain eye health & safety?

When you’re at home, keep an eye on your children’s playtime and make sure that none of their toys — or the toys at their friends’ homes — are sharp. Sharp plastic swords and toys with jagged edges can cause serious eye injuries.