Archive | January, 2012

New Education about Eye Care for Children

31 Jan

Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water syndicated radio talk show, recently interviewed Marguerite McDonald, MD about pediatric eye care and what every parent should know about preventing low vision and blindness in children.

Sharon noted that according to the World Health Organization, there are 1.4 million blind children in the world, and many more with low vision. Three-fourths of blind children live in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia, where 80% of blindness is preventable or correctable.

Major causes of childhood blindness in wealthy countries include genetic disorders, and lesions of the optic nerve and higher vision centers. In poor countries, blindness may be caused by measles (preventable), Vitamin A deficiency (preventable), harmful folk remedies (preventable), cataracts (curable), retinopathy of prematurity (curable), glaucoma (treatable), retinoblastoma (the eye usually can’t be saved but the life can) and infections such as conjunctivitis (curable). Causes of low vision include amblyopia (curable), strobismus (curable), nearsightedness (correctable) and developmental problems.

Sharon Kleyne, Marguerite McDonald and the World Health Organization agree that education is the key to preventing low vision and blindness in children. Frequent eye exams and the availability of medical care are most effective when parents are educated about the need for eye screenings and exams, and about what to look for in a child’s visual development.

Dr. McDonald believes that eyes are the most important organ in relating to the outside world. And yet there is much less education available on eye care than with most other health areas. Sharon Kleyne agreed. According to studies by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, sponsor of the “EyeSmart” campaign, Americans know virtually nothing about eye care.

Marguerite McDonald noted that the better hospitals routinely test infant vision. If there are no problems, they probably won’t mention it. All babies should have a pediatric eye exam because with conditions such as lazy eye, pediatric cataract (present in one birth in 50) or glaucoma, the earlier they are caught, the easier they are to correct. These conditions all cause the eye to send incorrect messages to the brain. When the brain begins ignoring messages from the bad eye, correction becomes far more difficult

Sharon asked about eye and brain communication. According to Dr. McDonald, the retina is actually part of the brain. Eye-to-brain pathways begin developing immediately after birth and it is critical that the baby’s eyes send correct messages. She notes that vision is, in large part, learned behavior (the ability to interpret what you see and to fill in the blanks), and poor vision in childhood can lead to learning and behavior problems.

Dr. McDonald notes that most schools have vision screening programs and are able to detect poor vision because they need only a simple eye chart. Diseases such as dry eye or glaucoma are much harder to detect and a doctor is required. However, an educated and observant parent is always the first line of defense.

© 2012 Bio-Logic Aqua Research

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An Ophthalmologist Describes the Global Dry Eye Crisis

24 Jan

Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water syndicated radio talk show, interviewed Philip Paden, MD, an Ophthalmologist in Medford, Oregon. They discussed the global dry eye crisis, eye health and nutrition, pediatric vision care and macular degeneration. The interview may be heard on-demand on World Talk Radio, Voice America, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes.

The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is interested in the complex links between dry eye disease, dry air, polluted humidity, climate change, indoor and outdoor environments and the need to drink more water.

During the interview, Sharon Kleyne asked Dr. Paden about the status of dry eye disease in the United States and worldwide. He indicated that the five worst US cities for dry eye are, in order, Las Vegas, Lubbock, TX, El Paso, TX, Midland/Odessa, TX and is Dallas, TX.

Outside the US, according to Dr. Paden, the situation is much worse. He said that in Argentina, the air is so bad, partly because of ozone layer thinning, that they recommend spending no more than three hours a day outdoors. Air quality is also problematic in China, India, Mexico, Brazil and Australia.

The eye’s tear film, he said, has been taking a beating and the main culprit is lack of air moisture, or polluted humidity from climate change, technology and population growth. Dry air and polluted humidity increase water evaporation from the tear film.

Regarding nutritional suggestions for maintaining a healthy tear film during the dry eye crisis, Dr. Paden recommended dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach and leaf lettuce. He also recommends flax seed oil and omega-3 fatty acids.

Sharon Kleyne asked about children’s visual health and pediatric vision care. Dr. Paden indicated that barring injury or major illness, children’s eyes are pretty resilient. Most problems develop as we age. He added that retinal blastoma, or melanoma of the eye, which occasionally turn up in infants, used to be invariably fatal and now usually no longer is. Eye cancer symptoms include inflammation of the outside of the eye, diminished peripheral vision, etc.

Regarding macular degeneration, Dr. Paden explained that the disease usually occurs in older people but occasionally turns up in teenagers. The retina loses pigment and deteriorates. The good news is that studies show that proper diet can reduce the chances of macular degeneration by 50% or more.