Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The eye nutrients that prevent blindness and also make you smarter

The connection between vision and cognition
Science has shown that increased lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet lowers the risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration (AMD) two eye diseases that cause permanent vision loss. Catracts can be treated by removing the damaged lens of the eye and transplanting a new artificial lens but AMD has no treatment and the only way to fight it is through prevention.  New research suggests that these same nutrients improve cognitive function in the elderly.  Read more...

Related articles:

Sharp vision sharp mind

The miracle vitamin gets even more miraculous

Lutein and zeaxanthin - nutrients for eye health

For more information on eye nutrition, visit

Monday, November 19, 2012

Retinal tear - what does it mean?

Having a retinal tear does not necessarily mean that your eye is generally unhealthy or compromised.  However, people who are highly myopic have a higher risk of developing a retinal tear because their eye is elongated which puts a strain on the retina. Note that the risk of retinal tears remains even after laser vision correction because laser vision correction does not correct the elongation of the eye.

A retinal tear is usually treated by a surgeon who will use a laser to seal the tear.  Sometimes the tear cannot be sealed completely which will result in a permanent loss of vision in a small part of the visual field of the affected eye.  However, patients usually never notice this because the healthy eye will compensate for the eye with the small tear.

A common sign of a retinal tear is to have flashes or floaters in your vision.  If this happens, see your optometrist right way.  If a retinal tear is found, you will be immediately referred to an eye surgeon for treatment.

After three unsuccessful strabismus surgeries, patient says no more.

Vision Therapy is an effective alternative to strabismus surgery
Here is a recent comment by a reader from Australia on the College of Optometrists in Vision Development blog that nicely illustrates the risks, problems and in inadequacies of strabismus surgery:

I’m from Coogee Beach which is a seaside suburb of Sydney, Australia.

I am the father of Terry who has had two operations in his right eye to correct a squint. When those two operations failed, an unsuccessful operation on the good left eye to try to get binocular vision also failed. The surgeon proposed a 4th operation to which my wife and I hesitated. Terry still tilts his head to one side to avoid double vision since his eyes work separately. He failed the 3D vision test.

Somehow I found the COVD blog and receive regular emails alerting me to new content. The blog has allowed me to consult with doctors who are members of it who have led me to a specialist vision optometrist at Maroubra Junction in Sydney very near to my home. Terry has been having regular vision therapy devised by Dr Liz Jackson and she has measured improvements from this therapy.

I still follow the blog because of the interesting guest articles and because, from it, I found out about Dr Sue Barry who regained 3D vision in adulthood. So that gives me hope for Terry’s vision therapy being successful. The COVD blog has also alerted me to research which indicates that vision problems in young children is grossly overlooked (pardon the pun). As a result, we’ve had our youngest son Julian screened – so far so good but we will check his vision annually. Please keep this blog going for parents and practitioners for the good of patients like my son Terry!
For more informaiton on strabismus, treatment for strabismus and vision therapy for strabismus, visit

Vision and learning

At Vision Source Vancouver, optometrists help children learn by treating vision problems that interfere wit learning.

At our Vancouver optometry clinic one of the most professionally and personally rewarding things we do is to help children reach their full academic and intellectual potential by treating vision problems that interfere with learning.  There are a number of vision problems that interfere with learning beyond the obvious one that can be fixed with glasses or contact lenses and need to be treated by a developmental optometrist using vision therapy.  These include visual information processing and binocular vision disorders, convergence insufficiency and accomodative insufficiency. These disorders are sometimes the result of traumatic brain injury.

That's because these are not problems with visual accuity,which means that even if a child has 20-20 vision as measured with the eye chart, the child's vision could be substantially deficient if she has one of these visual problems.

For who want to learn more about vision and learning, here are some informative articles:

More visual symptoms means lower academic performance
Feb 29, 2012

Vision therapy for convergence insufficiency improves academic performance ...
Jan 16, 2012

82% of teachers report an improvement in students after vision therapy
Jun 16, 2012

Binocular vision dysfunctions ate my homework
Mar 31, 2012

Study proves that vision problems interfere with learning and cause dyslexia
Apr 25, 2012

60% of students labled "learning disabled" students failed two or more binocular vision tests
Oct 20, 2012

Symptoms of some vision problems are a lot like ADHD - make sure your child is not misdiagnosed and unnecessarily medicated.

To find a doctor visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fixing my gaze - how vision therapy worked where strabismus surgery failed

Fixing My Gaze is and inspirational book by neuroscientist, Susan Barry, who was born with strabismus (an eye turn) and had lived all her life without stereo vision, meaning that she could not see in three dimensions.

She had three surgeries to "correct" the eye turn cosmetically but she still could not see properly and the eye was still turned, although less than before. She had lived this way for over 40 years until she met optometrist Dr.Theresa Ruggiero.

Dr. Ruggiero treated Susan with vision therapy which corrected the eye turn and allowed her see in three dimensions for the first time in her life. Can you imagine how her world was transformed?

Here is what Susan Barry said in an interview with Scientific American about how the world looked different after vision therapy:

"For the first time, I could see the volumes of space between different tree branches, and I liked immersing myself in those inviting pockets of space. As I walk about, leaves, pine needles, and flowers, - even light fixtures and ceiling pipes - seem to float on a medium more substantial than air. Snow no longer appears to fall in one plane slightly in front of me. Now, the snowflakes envelope me, floating by in layers and layers of depth. It's been seven years since I gained stereovision, but ordinary views like these still fill me with a deep sense of wonder and joy."

Our vision therapy practice includes many patients with strabismus but all of them are very young (obviously it is better to fix the problem when a patient is young to save her from living years with the condition).

Susan Barry's story is remarkable in that she was in midlife when she received vision therapy. The conventional wisdom, now being disproved by new studies, was that after a "critical period" around the age of 7 or 8 , the brain could not be trained (or "rewired") to see in new ways. The old scientific thinking was that after early childhood, the brain became fixed. In fact, Susan Barry herself and other scientists thought that it was impossible for her to ever see in 3D.

Now, we know that the brain exhibits neuroplacticity and that given the proper behavioural therapy, even adults can rewire their brains. This has given hope to many people who did not receive treatment for visual processing disorders at a young age. Now it seems possible that even older patients with amblyopia or strabismus and other binocular vision disorders can benefit from treatments like vision therapy.

You can hear interviews with Susan Barry and read more about her story at her website:

Related Articles:

Strabismus Treatment

Vision therapy for strabismus

Alternatives to strabismus surgery

Risks and complications of strabismus surgery

Eye allergy, dry eye disease, virus or bacteria - which one is bothering my eyes?

It is a scene that happens every day at our Vancouver eye clinic.  A child comes in with dry eyes.  Simple, right?  Not at all! Here is a window on how doctors distinguish between dry eye disease, bacterial infections, viral infections and eye allergies.

If a child has dry eyes, doctors have to find the cause.  Dry eyes in kids can be caused by allergies, viruses, bacteria or systemic diseases.  A good doctor will correctly determine the cause of the dryness in order to treat the problem effectively.

Doctors distinguish between bacterial and viral infections on the one hand and allergies on the other using many techniques.  One of them is by noting the duration of the episode.   Viral and bacterial infections are usually not chronic.  By contrast, a chronic problem can point to an eye allergy.

Only about 1.5% of healthy children have dry eye disease symptoms and for most children dry eye is the symptom of an eye allergy.  However, parents of children with dry eyes need to take them to the optometrist for evaluation because some symptoms point to potentially serious problems. 

For example, dry eyes with the presence of a symptom such as burning is an indication of possible systemic disease.  In certain children with dry eyes, certain things point to dry eye syndrome such as a history of systemic disease like rheumatoid juvenile arthritis or Sj√∂gren’s syndrome.  Conversely, other things point to allergies such as a history of asthma or atopic dermatitis. Bacteria or a virus may be the cause of dry eyes if the child has a history of recent upper respiratory infection,  or a recent eye infection in a sibling.

Doctors pay close attention to patient symptoms because these help to distinguish between dry eye disease (aka dry eye syndrome) and eye allergy.  Here are some symptoms and the cause that they point to:

  • itching is strongly associated with eye allergy; 
  • burning and foreign body sensation are associated with dry eye disease;
  • complaints of lids matted together, along with irritation and soreness suggest a bacterial infection
  • irritation and pain suggest a virus;
  • sensitivity to light is also usually associated with a virus;
  • tearing eyes are usually a sign of dry eye;

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What is the best eyewear for kids? It's what eye doctors choose for their own kids.

Kids eye-wear in Vancouver BC.  Children's optometrist.
Our sister blog, asks, "What is the best eyewear for kids?"  The eye wear that eye doctors choose for their own children  reflects a doctor's concern for health, safety and effective vision correction.  Find out what eye doctors choose for their own kids. Read more...

What can go wrong if you don't get treatment for your dry eye?

Here is a post on about all of the rotten, horrible, no good, very bad things that can happen if people with dry eye syndrome ignore it and don't get any treatment.  And that list is beside the obvious that untreated dry eye give you a poor quality of life, with uncomfortable eyes and vision for your waking life.  Read more...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Does Restasis work?

One of the most well known dry eye medications is Restasis which was created by and sold by the company Allergan.  The active ingredient in Restasis is Cyclosporine. 

Many patients have seen television commercials on Restasis featuring Dr. Alison Tendler (see the photo to the left) and they come to our Vancouver eye clinic asking our doctors whether Restasis really works or is it all hype and marketing.  The answer is yes, it does work.  It requires the doctor to take enough time to educate the patient on how Restasis works and when the patient can expect results.  If the patient follows the doctor's instructions, relief from dry eye syndrome is likely.  Read more...

Related dry eye articles:

Dry eye syndrome hurts work productivity
Oct 31, 2012

Digital eye strain - who's at risk? - See For Life
Oct 13, 2012

The basic facts about dry eye syndrome - See For Life
Apr 05, 2012

Caffeine improves dry eye syndrome
Apr 18, 2012

Depressed? Anxious? Maybe your eyes are too dry ... - See For Life
Apr 20, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How eye glasses totally change your look, enhance your vision and prevent cancer

Eye-wear can totally change our entire look in addition to enhancing your vision, protecting your eyes from harmful UV radiation, preventing wrinkles and getting rid of visual fatigue and headaches and preventing skin cancer.  What a great invention!

Visit to find out you you can get free eyeglasses from our Vancouver Optometry clinic.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Vision problems after car accident are caused by brain injury - effective treatment available even 11 years later

A case study on the effects of vision therapy even 11 years after a car accident that caused a brain injury and resulting vision problems was presented in the journal Optometry and Vision Science. The study shows that accident victims that have suffered brain injuries experience a decreased quality of life when vision problems result and persist for years and, in this case, over a decade.  It also shows that treatment with vision therapy is probably never too late and can be a great benefit to the patient.

The subject of the case study is a 28-year-old Caucasian male who was evaluated for vision problems that started after he acquired a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a car accident 11 years previously. According to the study the patient  had "numerous symptoms including reading difficulties, ocular pain, headaches, and difficulties with depth perception. The evaluation revealed binocular vision, accommodative, and oculomotor dysfunctions, as well as reduced peripheral visual awareness and visualization anomalies."  The patient was treated with weekly office-based optometric vision therapy (OVT), home-based syntonics, primitive reflex integration, and single vision lenses with base-in prism.  

At both a 1-month post OVT progress evaluation and by a telephone follow up 15 months post-OVT,
the patient reported significant improvement in symptoms.

To find a doctor near you who can can treat the vision problems that result form brain injuries visit the website of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development here.

Here is some information from the case study on brain injuries and the vision problems that can result:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Brain injuries and vision problems - vision therapy and developmental optometry

Brain injuries Brain injuries can result from impacts during sports, car accidents or falls and they can also result from events like a stroke, aneurysm or due to degenerative diseases that affect the brain. A brain injury caused by an external trauma to the head is called a “traumatic brain injury” or “TBI”.

Brain injuries and vision

It is estimated that 20%-40% of people with brain injuries suffer vision related disorders.  

At our Vancouver developmental optometry clinic, we have treated patients with brain injuries resulting from car accidents, viral brain infections, sports related injuries such as concussions and more with vision therapy.

In many brain injury cases, eye muscles or the nerves controlling the eye muscles are damaged, resulting in problems with teaming, movement and focusing of the eyes. These disorders include binocular vision problems, visual information processing disorders, convergence insufficiency and accomodative insufficiency.
A number of published research studies support vision therapy as a and effective treatment for vision disorders caused by brain injuries.  One study presented  4 cases of pediatric brain injury patients aged 6-18 years who were examined at an optometry clinic of a local hospital.  The author found that the children suffered from a variety of ocular and visual disorders and three of them were having difficulties academically. Academic problems are no surprise since 80% of our learning happens through our visual system.  The patients benefited from vision therapy.

Symptoms of brain injury caused vision disorders

The most common vision related symptoms of brain injuries include the following:
  • Double vision
  • Poor eye tracking ability
  • Difficulties with shifting gaze quickly from one point to another
  • Focusing
  • Loss of binocular vision (eye alignment)
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue
  • Glare, or light sensitivity
  • Inability to maintain visual contact
  • Headaches
  • Blurred near vision
  • The extent of the injury can also impact a person’s visual information processing ability.  This can cause the following symptoms:
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Shifts in ability to judge location of objects
  • Difficulties with balance and posture
  • Poor depth perception
  • Memory loss
  • Poor handwriting

Studies on the treatment of vision problems caused by brain injury

For more information on the treatment of vision problems caused by brain injuries, check out the following published scientific studies on the topic:

Brodak, M.I. Pediatric acquired brain injury. Optometry 2010 81: 516-527. DOWNLOAD.

Green, W., Ciuffreda, K.L., et al. Accomodation in mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development. 2010. 47: 183-200. DOWNLOAD.

Ciuffreda KJ, Ludlam DP, Kapoor N. Clinical oculomotor training in traumatic brain injury. Optom Vis Dev 2009;40(1):16-23. DOWNLOAD.

Cockerham, G.C., Goodrich, G.L., et al. Eye and visual function in traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development. 2009. 46: 811-818. DOWNLOAD.

Julie L., Julie, B-T, et al. Deficits in complex visual information processing after mild TBI: Electrophysiological markers and vocational outcome prognosis Brain Injury.March 2008; 22(3): 265–274. DOWNLOAD.

Stanley, Paul. Effects of computer assisted visual scanning training on visual neglect: three case studies. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics,1996 Vol. 14(2) 33-44. DOWNLOAD.

Sharieff K. From braille to quilting: a neuro-optometric rehabilitation case report. Optom Vis Dev 2010;41(2):81-91. DOWNLOAD.

Schlageter, K. Gray, B. Incidence and treatment of visual dysfunctoin in traumatic brin injury. Brain Injury. 1993, 7:439-448. Download.

Brosseau-Lachaine, O. Gagnon, I. et al. Mild traumatic brain injury induces prolonged visual processing deficits in children. Brain Injury.August 2008; 22(9): 657–668. DOWNLOAD.

Leslie S. Myopia and accommodative insufficiency associated with moderate head trauma. Opt Vis Dev 2009;40(1):25-31.DOWNLOAD.

Gottlieb, D.D., Fuhr, A., et al. Neuro-optometric facilitation of vision recovery after acquired brain injury. NeuroRehabilitation. 1998. 11: 175-199. DOWNLOAD.

Mandese M. Oculo-visual evaluation of the patient with traumatic brain injury. Optom Vis Dev. 2009;40(1):37-44. DOWNLOAD.

Raymond, M.J., et al. Rehabilitation of visual processing deficits following brain injury. NeuroRehabilitation. 1996. 6: 229-240. DOWNLOAD.

Proctor A. Traumatic brain injury and binasal occlusion. Optom Vis Dev 2009;40(1):45-50.DOWNLOAD.

Tong D, Zink C. Vision dysfunctions secondary to motor vehicle accident: a case report. Optom Vis Dev 2010;41(3)158-168. DOWNLOAD.

Tassinari JT. Vision Therapy for sensory fusion disruption syndrome: two case reports. Optom Vis Dev 2010;41(4):215-221.DOWNLOAD.

Hellerstein L.F., Freed S., Maples, W.C., Vision profile of patients with mild brain injury. J Am Optom Assoc. 1995; 66: 634-39. DOWNLOAD.

Freed, S. Hellerstein, LF, Visual electrodiagnostic findings in mild traumatic brain injury, Brain Injury. 1997, VOL. 11, NO. 1, 25-36. DOWNLOAD.

Rowe, F. Visual perceptual consequences of stroke. Strabismus. 2009 Jan-Mar;17(1):24-8. DOWNLOAD.

Han, E., The role of the neuro-rehabilitation optometrist. DOWNLOAD.

Suchoff, I., Gianutosos, R., Rehabilitative optometric interventions for the adult with acquired brain injury. DOWNLOAD.