VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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CONFRONTING THE MYOPIA EPIDEMIC

Myopia (nearsightedness) is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. About 42 percent of people in this country who are ages 12 to 54 years are myopic. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long from front to back or the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, is curved. The anterior chamber of the eye is filled with aqueous fluid and the bulk of the eye is filled with vitreous humor. When the lens focuses, it’s like sitting on a basketball. The force goes outward and the basketball/eyeball changes shape, becoming more oblong.


With myopia, objects that are nearby or a short distance away are clear, but objects that are far away are blurred. The National Eye Institute predicts myopia will impact 44.5 million Americans by 2050. The change has been too sudden for it to simply be genetic, although statistically speaking, if one parent is nearsighted, their child is 40 percent more likely to be nearsighted. If two parents are nearsighted, their child is 60 percent more likely to be nearsighted.


Current research shows children today are developing myopia because they are now doing a lot more close work and playing more games on computers, phones and tablets. However, there is a very simple way to slow the progression of myopia in children: Make sure they get outside more. One study showed a minimum of two hours spent outside each day has a positive impact on myopia. For every hour a child spends outside playing, running and jumping, that above-mentioned likelihood of developing myopia decreases by 10 percent.

Eyeglasses have been the standard go-to option for correcting vision for years, but a couple of other possibilities are even more beneficial than eyeglasses. Orthokeratology, featured in last month’s column (also known as Ortho-k or cornea refractive therapy (CRT)) can stop the progression of myopia in children. The child’s eye is measured and fitted with a special lens that he sleeps in. The lens reshapes the eye so the child can go all day without having to wear glasses or contact lenses. Ortho-k works great for kids because they’re still growing. Another treatment is atropine eye drops. These are generally used to dilate the eye for exams, but it has been shown they can control (although not cure) myopia. The treatment does not use a full-blown dose of atropine. It basically locks up or freeze the lens that flexes and focuses when you’re doing close work. Eye exercises taught by a vision therapist can also help. When you’re doing close work, take eye breaks throughout the day, remembering the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to rest your eyes.


Myopia can lead to complications such as retinal detachment, glaucoma and macular degeneration. If you feel your child is at risk for myopia, schedule an

appointment with Family Eyecare Associates. Early detection and correction may keep your child from becoming part of the myopia epidemic. Call Family Eyecare Associates at (859) 879-3665.

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