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5 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

How to Reduce Your Childs Screen Time 640×350Many of us are spending more time in front of screens, and kids are no exception. Kids socialize on their phones and play video games, and may have spent a large part of the covid pandemic learning online.

However, research has shown that too much screen time is unhealthy for adults and kids. For this reason, it’s important to teach children to adopt healthy screen-time habits.

How Does Screen Time Affect the Eyes?

The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health study (2019), found that excessive screen time was linked to higher obesity rates, and a tendency to eat more junk foods and exercise less.

The eyes, in particular, are adversely affected by hours spent in front of the screen. This is because screens emit blue light, which has shorter wavelengths and more energy than regular light, and the intensity of the light strains the eyes. There are also questions concerning the damage it can cause to the retina.

Screen time has also been linked to higher levels of myopia in young people, according to an Anglia Ruskin University study (2021). Extensive time spent texting or watching videos on a phone led to a 30% higher risk of myopia, or nearsightedness, in young people, and combined with excessive computer use, the risk rose to 80%.

Another worrying factor is excessive exposure to blue light on the circadian rhythm, an internal clock that indicates when we should be asleep or awake. Hours of blue light exposure prior to going to bed can throw off these patterns and interfere with sleep.

 

How to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

Now the question is how should you implement these new rules? Here are 5 tips to help your child develop healthy habits while they’re still young, and help them preserve their mental and physical well-being, as well as their vision.

Set Limits

Set rules that are clear and easy to adhere to. Think about the number of hours per day you’re willing to allow your children to use the screen either for fun or for homework—factoring in a bit extra for holidays and weekends. For instance, one 1 hour per day during the week and 2-3 on the weekends. Also consider times that should be screen-free, such as during meals, before completing homework or chores, or an hour or two before bedtime.

Get Into a Routine

Once you’ve determined how much screen time should be permitted, create a routine that is manageable and easy to stick to. Setting a structure will reduce disagreements because everyone will know what’s expected of them. We recommend writing up the rules and posting them near the computer or in the family room.

For instance, assign each child an hour of screen time a day and ask them to sign up for specific slots. Leave the dinner hour vacant so no one is using screens at the time.

Set An Example

Setting rules specifying when screen time is allowed and for how long is fairly simple, but following them is a whole other thing! Modeling behavior can positively influence your kids, as they are more likely to abide by the rules if they see you setting limits on your screen time as well. Working together to limit screen time can engender a feeling of cooperation and shared goals. Instead of texting or scrolling or watching videos, spend more time together as a family doing things everyone enjoys.

Discuss WHY Screen Time Should Be Limited

Kids should not only know what the rules are but the reasons behind them. Discuss why it’s important to reduce screen time, including health issues that can arise, and explain how too much blue light can affect their eyes. Understanding the reasons behind rules can make them easier to follow.

Encourage Physical Activity, Particularly Outdoors

Your child might forget about screen time when engaged in fun activities that get the body moving. In fact, several studies have shown that children who spend a significant amount of time playing outdoors lower their risk of developing myopia (nearsightedness). Other studies have linked “near work,” such as reading and spending too much time on digital devices, to the development and progression of myopia. Myopia is more than simply an inconvenient eye condition that requires frequent correction—it can have serious sight-threatening consequences in adulthood. Namely, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and even cataracts. The faster the progression, and the younger the child, the greater the risk!

So encourage your child to play outdoors for at least 30-60 minutes each day, with siblings, friends or as part of a sports team. Perhaps you can take a walk or a bike ride with them after work, or throw a Frisbee — essentially helping them get into the habit of having fun without depending on screens.

If your child has already developed myopia and you want to limit its progression, contact us today. Dr. Matthew Wang at Advanced Eyecare Myopia Control Center can help reduce or slow down myopia progression so they can live their best life.

Our practice serves patients from Irvine, Dana Point, Lake Forest, and Newport Beach, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Matthew Wang

Q: Does blue light affect myopia?

  • A: A study in the International Journal of Ophthalmology (2018) has shown a link between extended exposure to blue light and nearsightedness or myopia. That’s because blue light has a shorter wavelength and its high frequency penetrates the front of the retina, and can potentially lead to nearsightedness. That said, there’s still more research to be done on the link between the two.

Q: What is myopia management necessary?

  • A: Myopia management helps slow myopia progression using specific proven treatments methods. This also involves making lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time and spending more time outdoors. The goal is to keep the level of myopia as low as possible in order to reduce your child’s risk of developing vision-threatening eye diseases later in life.
  • References

Important Update

Dear Patients,

In an effort to help reduce the public health impact of COVID-19 on our community, the office will be closed for 2 weeks from Saturday, March 21st until Friday, April 3rd.

During this time, we will still be checking e-mails and voicemails. If you need to order contact lenses, please e-mail us at orders@AdvancedEyecareOC.com or dporders@AdvancedEyecareOC.com and we will arrange for free shipping of these orders to your home. If you have an order here at the office that needs to be picked up before April 4th, please e-mail us at one of the addresses above and we will do our best to arrange delivery or pick up.

If you are looking to schedule an appointment for after April 3rd, the easiest way to do that is via our website at www.AdvancedEyecareOC.com. We have live calendars for both offices with openings starting April 4th. Please be advised that this is only a tentative reopen date and we will do our best to keep you updated.

If you are experiencing an urgent medical eye issue, please call (949) 242-0254. We do have doctors available to provide care in these situations. We recommend that you do not visit an urgent care center or emergency room unless directed to by one of our doctors.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. We realize a break in care is inconvenient and want to reassure you that we are still available for urgent matters while giving us the opportunity to continue routine care at a later time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Matt, Dr. Steve & Dr. P

Why a New Pair of Glasses Is NOT the Best Holiday Gift for Your Child

girl hugging her present 3154363If your child is nearsighted (myopic), it may seem like a great idea to get him or her a new pair of glasses. They will surely improve how well your child sees but, unfortunately, will do nothing to slow myopia progression. You can offer your child MUCH more than a pair of specs — something that will ensure long term vision health care and quality of life: Myopia Management.

Myopia Management is made up of several treatments designed to slow down how quickly myopia, or shortsightedness, progresses. In other words, their prescription will remain the same as they grow older. The treatments include uniquely designed multifocal contact lenses, atropine eye drops, and orthokeratology (“ortho-k”). Evidence suggests that myopia management can reduce the progression of myopia by up to 60% after two years of treatment.

What Makes Myopia Management An Excellent Gift?

Currently, myopia is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss and legal blindness.

As a child quickly develops and their nearsighted vision worsens, the child is at a higher risk of developing dangerous eye diseases later in life, such as retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.

To thwart any of these sight-robbing conditions, Advanced Eyecare Myopia Control Center offers evidence-based treatment to prevent the onset or reduce the progression of myopia in our pediatric patients.

Myopia management enables your child to experience a more mild form of myopia than he or she would have otherwise had without treatment. Having mild-degree myopia means that your child’s likelihood of developing retinal detachment or macular degeneration is dramatically reduced.

So why don’t you make this holiday gift a particularly special one by protecting your child’s precious gift of sight. And the best part? It will pay off well after the holidays are over.

On behalf of Dr. Matthew Wang and the staff at Advanced Eyecare Myopia Control Center in Irvine, we’d like to wish you all the best for the holiday season and the New Year!

November 10 is World Keratoconus Day

World Keratoconus Day FB Post

November 10 will be the fourth annual World Keratoconus Day. Keratoconus is an eye disease in which the eye bulges and its shape becomes less spherical, leading to potentially significant loss of vision. Symptoms can also include sensitivity to light and red, puffy eyes.

Sometimes, a cornea transplant is required in order to treat the eyes. Often, however, patients will make use of specialty lenses (such as scleral lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, and hybrid lenses) or cross-linking (a minor procedure involving eye drops and ultraviolet light) to obtain the clearer vision. Regular contact lenses are often too ineffective and uncomfortable for patients with keratoconus to use.

Modern research is showing that keratoconus may be far more common than we had believed. It affects those of all ethnic groups and genders, usually manifesting itself in early adulthood. People from communities worldwide experience life with keratoconus, and Irvine is no different.

At Advanced Eyecare Optometric Center, we offer treatment to keratoconus patients from the greater community. Being very familiar with the challenges of life with keratoconus, we join together with friends around the globe in celebrating Keratoconus Day. This annual event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of keratoconus and the treatments available to those who have it.

If you or a loved one would like to be examined for keratoconus and other eye conditions or to discuss treatment options, call us orschedule an appointment. Click here to learn more about keratoconus and the treatments we offer for it.

Blinking and Dry Eye: The Clear Connection

Dry Eye Syndrome Affects Your Blinking

Ever notice that when you blink your eyes, your vision goes out of focus?

Blurry vision does not necessarily mean that you need new glasses. In fact, a very common cause of blurry vision is called dry eye syndrome. Often confused with eye allergies, when your eyes fail to produce tears with the right balance of oils, here eyes can become irritated, red, and even itchy. Over time, this can, in a severe case of dry eye, even affect your vision and make things blurry.

Nearly every week, Advanced Eyecare Optometric Center sees patients who complain about the following:

  • Driving at night is difficult
  • Very light-sensitive
  • Glare from bright lights can be painful
  • Eyes are constantly red
  • Watery eyes are teary eyes
  • Continuous eye rubbing

While not everybody suffers from dry eye syndrome, there are certainly a number of shared symptoms that can indicate dry eye. One of the telltale signs, however, is when you blink and your vision goes to the focus. Because your vision is dependent on the quality of your tears, any imbalance will tend to disrupt the way your eyes can focus and receive light.

Dry Eye Specialist – Eye Doctor in Irvine

If you have noticed any of the following symptoms such as blurry vision or red eyes, schedule an appointment at Advanced Eyecare Optometric Center, either at our Irvine location or at our Dana Point location for a complete eye exam and dry eye evaluation.

Ortho-K

Young Girl Sitting on Skateboard

Back To School Eye Exams

It’s back to school season and you want to make sure your child is ready to enter the classroom on the right foot. If your child passes the vision screening given at school, you’re probably good to go. But if your child does not pass, it’s important to book an appointment to see if there’s something more urgent going on. If there is a family history of eye conditions, such as parents with high prescriptions of myopia, or nearsightedness, then your child may qualify for Ortho-K treatment, a night-contact lens that helps to manage myopia. Of course, if your child already wears a high prescription due to nearsightedness, we recommend scheduling an evaluation to see if your child qualifies for Ortho-K.

But what are the dangers of nearsightedness?

A good analogy is to think of your child’s eye as a building structure. If the structure of a building is at risk of getting worse, it’s important to strengthen it so it does not collapse. The same is true of myopia- the progression of nearsightedness can ruin the structure of your child’s eye, thus creating room for other diseases to occur. As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the risks of myopia in your child because of the future risk of eye diseases, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and cataracts. These risks are pretty well-established, so if we can work together to prevent myopia, we can likely prevent these risks as well. The good news is that Ortho-K is a proven option that may reduce your child’s nearsightedness. Schedule an appointment today to discover how to best manage your child’s eye health.

Your Child’s Eye Exam & Their Future

Preparing for school means new school supplies, meeting new friends and teachers, and ensuring your child visits their eye doctor for an eye exam. Although schools may offer vision screenings within a few weeks or days of the new school year to ensure a child doesn’t struggle with poor visual acuity, none of the staff or even trained nurses check for visual problems, such as binocular vision and accommodative eye skills that play a significant role in near vision. Children who develop reading problems may have passed vision screenings yet were never examined by a professional optometrist.

Another benefit of coming to our practice is that we specialize in myopia management. Traditionally, the only way to handle nearsightedness or myopia progression in a child is to increase the prescription, often resulting in thicker glasses. Over a few years, a child will end up jumping from a low prescription of -.5 or -1 to a high prescription of -3 or worse! Unfortunately, high myopia has been identified as a lead cause for eye disease in old age, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and even retinal detachment. A person can be 3-4x at risk for eye disease from having a prescription of -4 compared to someone with a low prescription.

Why does myopia cause eye disease?

Although LASIK surgery can help you see without eyeglasses, once a person’s eyes have worsened to a low prescription, the shape of their eye has elongated to a point that leaves the retina in a precarious state. Laser vision correction merely corrects the surface of the eye, but without preventing myopia progression, the damage has already been done. Therefore, the only way to safely secure one’s vision from greater risk is myopia management, in other words, taking steps to stop progression in its tracks.

What should a parent consider for their child’s next year at school?

Come to our practice and schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor, Dr. Matthew Wang. We’ll not only evaluate the child’s complete eye health, but we’ll guide on the proper steps to slow myopia progression. We have methods through specialty contact lenses to stop advancing myopia, but often we’ll educate parents on how to slow progression through good habit building.

  • Children need 2 hours of outside play. Build their long-vision muscles!
  • Reduce screen time
  • Practice the 20-20-20 Rule.
    • Take a break from close vision work every 20 minutes,
    • Then look at something 20 feet away (or further)
    • Spend at least 20 seconds doing this before returning to your close-up work.

We look forward to seeing you and your children and getting the entire family prepared for the new school year with confidence & healthy vision.

Prevalence of Keratoconus & Likelihood of Detection

Eye Doctor, Keratoconus Treatment in Kelowna, BC.

Ever wonder how common is keratoconus in Irvine, California ?
Do people simply develop keratoconus overtime? Is it genetic?

Keratoconus has been a very complex and elusive eye disease that continues to baffle the world of eye health. Still, recent advanced surgical procedures and specialty contact lenses can help keratoconus patients achieve relatively normal vision, although the costs are generally high.

In severe cases where a cornea transplant is required, a patient will need to recover at home for weeks or longer placing strain on the rest of the family and finances.

How likely is someone to end up with keratoconus?

Estimates suggest that 1 out of 2000 people suffer from keratoconus.
Some optometrists who work with keratoconus patients speculate the rate is far more common nearing 1 out of 1000. Keratoconus, regardless, is considered rare, and there aren’t many indications that pinpoint which person is more likely to develop keratoconus.

Keratoconus is most commonly diagnosed with:

  • African Americans
  • Males
  • Teenagers/Early 20s

Keratoconus means that the cornea has developed an irregular shape, often leading to light sensitivity, blurry vision, and the inability to wear soft contact lenses.

These symptoms can indicate keratoconus, but further examination by an eye doctor will best assess whether you have keratoconus. An optometrist would need to use digital imaging to assess the health of the eye’s surface. Some forms of digital imaging check inside the eye to review blood vessels, the retina, or macula to ensure the critical aspects of the eyes structure is healthy. A patient with keratoconus who skips digital imaging or receives the wrong form of assessment will often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years.

In order to ensure the best care and earliest detection for keratoconus or any corneal irregularity, schedule your next eye exam with one of our eye doctors in Irvine, California , today.

Signs That Your Child Has a Vision Problem

Healthy eyes and good vision are essential for your child’s growth and development. In fact, learning is 80% visual, which means a child’s success in school, athletics and many other aspects of life can be impacted by poor vision. Good vision goes beyond how far you can see, and also includes a number of other skills such as visual processing and eye movement abilities. 

Often times vision deficiencies are at the root of learning problems and behavioral issues and may unfortunately go unchecked and misdiagnosed. Remember, if your child is having trouble in school, an eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses is a much easier solution than treating a learning disorder or ADHD; yet many people fail to check that first. 

It is common for children to think that their vision deficiency is normal and therefore they often won’t report it to parents or teachers. That is why it is even more important to know what to look for. Here are some signs that your child may have a vision problem:

Vision Signs

  • Squinting or blinking often
  • Eye rubbing
  • Tilting the head to the side
  • Covering one eye
  • One eye that turns out or in
  • Reporting double vision
  • Holding books or reading materials very close to the face

 

Behavioral Signs

  • Complaining of headaches or eye fatigue
  • Short attention span
  • Difficulty reading
  • Losing their place frequently when reading
  • Avoiding reading or any activity that requires close work
  • Problems with reading comprehension or recall
  • Behavioral issues that stem from frustration and/or boredom
  • Poor performance and achievement in school or athletics
  • Working twice as hard to achieve minimal performance in school

Another issue is that many parents and teachers think that a school vision screening is sufficient to assess a child’s vision, so if that test comes back okay, they believe there is no vision problem. This however, is far from the case. A school vision test usually only assesses visual acuity for distance vision or how far a child can see. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have significant vision problems that prevent them from seeing, reading and processing visual information. 

Every child of school age should have comprehensive eye and vision exams on a regular, yearly basis to assess their eye and vision health, and ensure that any issues are addressed as soon as possible. It’s also important to have an exam prior to entering kindergarten, as undetected lazy eye may be more complicated to treat past seven years of age. 

Some of the issues the eye doctor may look for, in addition to good visual acuity, are the ability to focus, eye teaming and tracking, visual perception, hand-eye coordination, depth perception and peripheral vision. They will also assess the health of the eye and look for any underlying conditions that may be impairing vision. Depending on the problem the eye doctor may prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy to correct the issue. 

During the school years a child’s eyes and vision continue to develop and change so it is important to continually check in on your child’s vision. If you have a family history of vision problems, follow-ups are even more important. Progressive conditions like progressive myopia, strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye) or astigmatism can be treated and monitored for changes with early treatment so it’s important to seek a doctor’s diagnosis as soon as signs or symptoms are present. 

Make sure that your child has the best possible chances for success in school and add a comprehensive eye exam to your back to school to-do list. 

Eye Dangers in the Dorm – Eye Health for College Students

It’s almost back to school time for college students and whether this is your first time away from home or you are already a pro, you want to be prepared with as much knowledge as possible to live safely on your own. This knowledge includes eye and vision safety, as failing to take care of your eyes today could cause damage to your eyes and vision now and in the future. 

So put down your text books for a second and learn these four simple lessons about protecting your precious eyes:

Blue Light Protection

College students spend a LOT of time in front of screens. From each class, homework assignment, and research project, to texting, tinder, netflix and gaming – life is largely digital. This comes with a slew of potential side effects known as computer vision syndrome, including sore and tired eyes, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, dry eyes and blurred vision, largely due to the effect of the blue light emitted from the screens. Research shows that blue light can also impact your sleep quality and may possibly be connected to the development of retinal damage and macular degeneration later in life.

There are a few ways to protect your eyes and vision from blue light and computer vision syndrome:

  1. Use computer glasses or blue-light blocking coated lenses or contact lenses when working on a screen for long periods of time. These lenses are made to allow optimal visual comfort for the distance and unique pixelation of working on a computer or mobile screen, by reducing glare and eye strain. They also block potentially harmful blue-light radiation from entering your eyes. 
  2. Prescription glasses may be considered as well. Many students who never needed glasses previously experience eyestrain with extensive hours studying in university. A minor prescription can make a big difference in reducing eye fatigue and helping to improve concentration.
  3. Implement the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to pause from the intensity of the computer screen. 
  4. Depending on your environment, eye drops prescribed from the eye doctor may be helpful. Your blink rate often goes down substantially when you are concentrating on reading or computer work, which can cause dry eyes. Using eye drops and remembering to blink frequently can help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. 
  5. Install bluelight filters on your digital devices to reduce the amount of blue light exposure. There are a number of free apps available to download on your phone or computer. 

Proper Contact Lens Use

Many college students opt for contact lenses as they are convenient and great for the appearance, but they come along with responsibility. The busy days and late nights can sometimes make contact lens care difficult so make sure to plan ahead. If you wear contact lenses you need to make sure that you always get them from an authorized lens distributor and that you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper care.

Always follow the wearing schedule and never sleep in lenses that are not designed for extended wear. Clean and disinfect as needed, and don’t rinse them with anything other than contact lens solution. Failing to follow the proper use and hygiene for contact lenses can result in irritation, infections and even corneal scarring which can result in vision loss.

One-day disposable lenses can be a great option especially for college students as they offer ultimate convenience (no cleaning and storing) and optimal eye health. 

Further, if you enjoy wearing contact lenses, then remember to get a proper fit from your eye doctor. Many “exclusive” contact lenses available online may actually be poorly fit and made from inferior materials. One size does not fit all.

UV Protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to cause long term eye damage and lead to vision threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally in extreme cases of unprotected UV exposure you can get sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, dry feeling, burning, swelling, light sensitivity, vision changes and sometimes serious pain. These symptoms typically go away within a day or two. Wearing 100% UV reflective sunglasses whenever you are outside – rain or shine – is a first step to eye protection. A large brimmed hat to protect the eyes from exposure from the top and sides is also a recommended addition for sunny days.

Get a regular eye exam

To start off college with the right foot forward, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam prior to the start of the the school year, especially if you haven’t had one recently. This way you can ensure that your eyes and vision are in top shape and, if you wear glasses, that your prescription is still accurate. The last thing you want to worry about when getting adjusted to college is problems with your eyes and vision. 

It’s also recommended for students that are going away to another city to get a recommendation for a local eye doctor in case of an emergency. Most eye doctors know of colleagues located in other cities who they could recommend.

Just remember to think about your eyes because the better you take care of them now, the healthier eyes and vision you will have down the line. 

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