CATARACTS ARE A PART OF AGING

If you are coming in to your 40s, you may be noticing that your eyesight is changing. You have to strain a little to read, holding the book or newspaper farther away, or you find you need to wear bifocals. You may even notice a bit of clouding of the lens of your eyes. What is going on?   Your eyes, like many other parts of the body, are showing signs of aging. The Crystalline lens in your eye is becoming less flexible. This makes it more difficult for the lens to adjust and focus when you look from far to near.

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GLAUCOMA

Age takes its toll on all parts of the body, even the eyes. While conditions such as glaucoma are not necessarily inevitable as we get older, they are still possibilities that can change the way we see. It always pay to practice foresight – it just may save your eyesight.  Glaucoma is a rather complex disease. Simply put, it occurs when fluid pressure builds up in your eyes. Approximately two and a half quarts of fluid, called aqueous humor, pumps through the eyes every day, providing.....

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PUT AN EYE EXAM ON YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL TO-DO LIST

The American Optometric Association recommends preschool children receive a complete vision exam at the ages of 6 months, 3 years and 5 years. It is particularly important a child have a complete evaluation in the summer prior to entry into kindergarten. Kentucky was the first state to make a law that says you have to have an exam by a optometrist or ophthalmologist the first time you enter Kentucky public schools. The main thing is to make sure children are seeing the black/ whiteboard.

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BRAIN INJURY CAN AFFECT VISION

A concussion, also known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or an acquired brain injury, can adversely affect vision. Unfortunately, possible visual problems are often overlooked during the initial treatment of a concussion. Perhaps a coach or doctor will move a finger in front of the patient’s eyes to see how they track movement, but this cursory examination does not get to the deeper repercussions of the injury.


What happens with a TBI is that the brain gets shaken, incurring multifunctional problems and often disrupting neural pathways, including the two visual pathways (focal and ambient). This irregular movement in the brain can affect motor skills, balance and general orientation.


Some of the symptoms of visual problems that can result from a TBI include headache, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, reading difficulties and difficulty concentrating. Memory and attention are often impacted as well. The patient may also have problems with eye tracking (the ability to move the eye smoothly across a printed page or while following a moving object); focusing (looking quickly from far to near and back without any blurring); eye teaming (using the eyes together as a team – smoothly, equally and accurately); and depth perception (judging relative distances of objects – how far or near they are). These vision problems are hidden disabilities a physician should look for following any sort of acquired brain injury. If these symptoms are ignored and

rehabilitation is delayed, the long-term effects of the TBI can result in an ongoing disruption in the receiving and processing of information, since the eyes and the brain are interdependent.


Visual field loss or reduction is another possible result of a TBI. The visual field is the complete central and peripheral range. Many patients who have had a major brain trauma usually have hemianopia, which is decreased vision or blindness in half the visual field. Basically, you are unable to see anything to the right or left. It is always best to seek treatment as soon as possible. However, even if there is permanent visual field loss, vision therapy can make you more functional with the field that remains.


These problems can be successfully decreased or eliminated with various vision therapy treatments, such as neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, low-vision aides, specially tinted lenses that reduce light sensitivity and prism lenses. Through vision therapy and the proper use of lenses, a behavioral optometrist specifically trained to work with TBI patients can help improve the flow and processing of information between the eyes and the brain, thus increasing vision

efficiency. The damaged pathways can be retrained and restored. The patient receives positive feedback just as he would with physical or occupational therapy.


Any time you have a head incident, be sure to have yourself thoroughly checked, including your vision. It is always better to be safe than sorry. For more information about neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, visit the Web page of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association at www.nora.cc.

DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe