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Everything You Need To Know About Keratoconus

Everything You Need To Know About Keratoconus 640×350If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, our Charlotte eye doctors understand your challenge and are here to help you see clearly and comfortably.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you gain a better understanding of what keratoconus is and how it can be treated.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus affects about 1 in every 2,000 people. This progressive eye disease impacts the shape of the cornea, weakening it and causing it to thin and bulge outward into a cone shape.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer covering of the eye. It’s responsible for focusing incoming light onto the retina at the back of the eye to enable clear vision. So, when keratoconus develops, the change in the cornea’s shape directly impacts the way light is focused.

Keratoconus often results in nearsightedness and high levels of astigmatism — two refractive errors that cause blurry and distorted vision.

If left untreated, keratoconus can lead to permanent corneal damage and even loss of vision.

What Typically Causes Keratoconus?

Keratoconus develops when the collagen fibers that support the cornea begin to weaken. While having a family member with the disease is a significant risk factor, the following conditions can also lead to keratoconus:

  • Eye trauma
  • Eye allergies
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Certain eye diseases
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Addison’s disease
  • Leber’s congenital amaurosis

The Signs & Symptoms of Keratoconus

The symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision, with straight lines appearing bent or wavy
  • Sensitivity to bright light and glare
  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Increasing difficulty wearing standard contact lenses

Keratoconus tends to be initially detected in teens or young adults in their 20s, but symptoms can develop at any age.

Keratoconus symptoms usually start out mild but grow progressively worse over time — often over a decade or two — until the condition plateaus.

Both eyes are usually affected, and it’s common to have a difference in optical prescriptions between each eye.

Can Keratoconus Cause Vision Loss?

Keratoconus progression causes nearsightedness, astigmatism and visual distortions to worsen.

Eventually, corneal swelling can lead to scarring of the corneal tissue, which diminishes its transparency and increases your risk of vision loss.

Early detection and treatment of this condition are therefore critical for preventing permanent vision loss.

Can Keratoconus Be Corrected?

Initially, blurry and distorted vision can be corrected with custom-fit soft contact lenses or eyeglasses. However, as the condition progresses and your cornea becomes increasingly cone-shaped, these standard methods of vision correction become less effective.

At this point, many patients with mild to moderate keratoconus opt for scleral lenses, an effective, non-surgical method of achieving clear vision.

Severe keratoconus may require a corneal transplant procedure to replace your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea.

Scleral Lenses for Keratoconus

Custom designed scleral lenses help patients with corneal irregularities achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera while avoiding the diseased cornea. This creates a new optical surface instead of the damaged cornea and prevents discomfort by resting on the sclera of the eye. Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment – making it optimal for healing.

Don’t let keratoconus impact your quality of life. We can help you achieve clear, comfortable vision with scleral contact lenses.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with keratoconus, call Excel Eyecare OD PA today to schedule a scleral lens consultation.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What Are the Advantages of Wearing Scleral Lenses?

A: Below are the main benefits of wearing scleral lenses:

  • Scleral lenses are made of high-quality materials, which means they’ll last for the long haul.
  • Their large [size] enables them to stay centered and stable on your eye.
  • The vaulted lens holds hydrating saline solution which creates optimal conditions for ultimate comfort and healing of dry eyes.
  • Because the scleral lenses cover more surface of the eye than traditional lenses, they also help shield the eyes from external irritants.

Q: Are scleral lenses covered by insurance?

A: When it comes to scleral lenses, every insurance company is different. We recommend contacting us or checking with your insurance provider to find out if scleral lenses are covered under your plan.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 980-319-1870

Can Cataract Surgery Prevent Dementia?

Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure that removes cataracts, the cloudy formations on the eye’s lens that impair vision.

Now, researchers are discovering that vision loss may be linked to a higher rate of dementia and suggest that restoring clear vision (through cataract surgery, for example) may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Is There a Correlation Between Cataracts and Dementia?

More than half of those 80 or older have had at least one cataract. Many people in this age range also have dementia, a decline in cognitive functioning.

But is there a connection between these two seemingly unrelated conditions?

Recent studies suggest that, yes, there could be a link. One 15-year study found that patients with age-related vision problems, including cataracts, had a higher incidence of dementia.

The 2021 study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, followed 12,000 subjects aged 55-73. When compared to patients with healthy vision, cataract patients had an 11% higher incidence of dementia.

Can Cataract Surgery Prevent Dementia?

Can sight-saving cataract surgery reduce your risk of dementia? It certainly looks promising!

A 2022 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that removing cataracts was “significantly associated with a lower risk of dementia development.” In fact, patients who had undergone cataract surgery had a 29% lower rate of dementia.

In addition, MRI scans have shown greater brain activity following cataract surgery.

How Can Vision Loss Cause Dementia?

Scientists studying the link between vision loss and dementia suspect that vision loss negatively impacts the brain. They theorize that the more visual information we receive, the more active our brains are, and brain activity may be able to fend off dementia.

For this reason, by restoring clear vision, cataract surgery may stimulate the brain and prevent cognitive decline.

There could be an emotional and social dimension to cognitive decline as well. People who suffer from significant vision loss often feel isolated. They may feel discouraged by their inability to recognize faces or perform everyday tasks, and may avoid social interactions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, social isolation raises the risk of developing dementia by 50%.

If you have cataracts and you feel your quality of life is affected, schedule an appointment with Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte without delay. We’ll answer your questions about cataract surgery and ensure you receive optimal treatment.

Q&A With Our Optometrist

How is cataract surgery performed?

Cataract surgery is a short 30-40 minute procedure that replaces your cloudy, natural lens with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). First, the eye surgeon makes a hole in the cloudy lens and breaks it into tiny pieces. Next, the eye surgeon places the new clear lens onto the eye. You’ll be conscious throughout the surgery. The surgery is safe, effective and painless.

Is cataract surgery always successful?

Cataract surgery is highly successful, with a 99% success rate. Complications from cataract surgery are very rare.

June 27 Is National Sunglasses Day!

Monday, Jun 27, 2022 is National Sunglasses Day, so grab your favorite pair of sunnies and celebrate!

Many people think sunglasses are little more than a fashion accessory or a way to minimize glare while driving.

But the truth is that wearing sunglasses is vital if you want to safeguard your eye health and vision.

Why Sunglasses are Important

The number one reason to wear sunglasses is that they prevent ultraviolet (UV) light from entering your eyes.

UV light has been shown to age every part of the eye, from the delicate outer eye tissue to the tiny structures within the eye itself. Chronic UV exposure raises your risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and corneal damage.

The skin on your eyelids is the thinnest skin of your body, and UV light exposure can further thin eyelid skin, leading to premature aging and the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bags. Additionally, wearing sunglasses can help prevent wrinkles because you’ll squint less in the sunshine. Who knew sunglasses can be a key player in your anti-aging routine?

Moreover, UV light has been shown to slow the cornea’s ability to heal itself, making sunglasses a medical necessity for people who’ve recently had eye surgery like LASIK, or those who frequently wear contacts (overwearing contacts can irritate the cornea).

Finally, sunglasses are a fun way to show the world your personality and accessorize any outfit.

Activities for National Sunglasses Day

Not sure how to celebrate National Sunglasses Day? Here are a few ideas you may enjoy.

Sport your favorite pair of sunglasses during an outdoor activity, whether it’s a barbecue with friends, a concert at a stadium or time spent in the park.

You can also celebrate National Sunglasses Day by gifting a pair of quality sunglasses to a friend, spouse or child!

No matter how you choose to celebrate National Sunglasses Day, we hope you enjoy and keep your eyes protected.

For all matters related to eye health, ​​Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte is here for you. Contact our eye doctor today!

FAQ With Our Optometrist

Should kids wear sunglasses?

Yes, children of all ages should wear sunglasses whenever they’re outdoors. In fact, it’s crucial because a child’s crystalline lens within the eye is much more clear than an adult’s, letting more light through. Contact us to learn more about kids’ eye health or to schedule an eye exam.

Can sunglasses block blue light?

Sunglasses with lenses that have a yellowish tint offer the most amount of blue light protection, from the sun and other sources. If you’re interested in blocking the blue light that’s emitted from your digital devices, speak with us to determine if computer glasses are right for you.

What’s The Connection Between Dry Eye And Asthma?

Woman with Dry Eye And AsthmaResearchers have already established several known risk factors for developing dry eye syndrome: the quality of your tears, excessive screen time, air pollution, hormonal fluctuations, aging, certain medications and medical conditions, and even one’s gender (females are more prone).

Here’s another risk factor that’s recently been added to the list: having asthma.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that affects about 300 million people around the globe. Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and breathlessness.

Fortunately, asthmatic patients are usually able to do the activities they enjoy by taking prescription medications that facilitate easier breathing.

But medical professionals have noticed that individuals taking these medicines, and sometimes even asthmatic patients who don’t, have a higher incidence of dry eye syndrome.

If you have asthma or any other risk factors for dry eye syndrome, let your eye doctor know. The eye care professionals at Excel Eyecare OD PA can identify the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and provide you with lasting dry eye relief.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes consistently lack proper lubrication, either due to insufficient tears or tears that lack essential oils.

Here’s a list of the common dry eye symptoms:

  • Burning, gritty or itchy eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty or inability to wear contact lenses
  • Feeling that something is stuck in your eye

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Most cases of dry eye syndrome result from the dysfunction of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which produce the vital oils needed for healthy tears, and which reduce tear evaporation. But dry eyes can also be caused by some autoimmune diseases, hormone replacement therapy, certain medications and, it appears, asthma or the medications that treat it.

Environmental factors that can bring on dry eye syndrome include exposure to wind or airborne irritants, pollution, infrequent or incomplete blinking (people blink less when they use digital devices), heating, air conditioning and dry weather. Certain makeup products, including mascara, and application methods such as applying makeup on the eyelid margin, can block the glands that lubricate the eyes.

Can Dry Eye Syndrome Be Cured?

There is now a wide range of treatment options that can successfully manage your dry eyes. The key is to allow us to find and target the underlying cause of your condition, so we can create a plan to minimize and sometimes eliminate your dry eye symptoms.

What’s the Link Between Asthma and Dry Eye Syndrome?

Several studies have examined the relationship between asthma and dry eye syndrome and found that although a link exists, researchers aren’t sure exactly why.

One study, published in BMJ Open (2019), found that asthmatic people of Australian, Caucasian and Asian descent have higher rates of dry eye syndrome than those without asthma.

Another study, published in Medicine (2020), established a significant link between asthma and dry eye syndrome, and found that children with asthma tend to have an unstable tear film — a common cause of dry eyes.

One hypothesis is that asthma medications, like inhaled corticosteroids, oral antihistamines and leukotriene receptor antagonists may contribute to eye dryness by inhibiting tear production, but further research is needed.

Could asthma itself be the culprit? Possibly, but more research is needed for a better understanding. What is known, however, is that having low blood oxygen levels caused by severe asthma can deprive the front section of the eye (the cornea) of oxygen, potentially leading to dry eye syndrome.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Research shows that having asthma may increase your risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms.

If you have asthma, speak with your optometrist about lowering your risk of developing dry eye syndrome and make sure to bring all of your asthma medications to your next eye exam.

If you already have certain symptoms of dry eye syndrome, promptly contact Excel Eyecare OD PA to schedule a dry eye consultation. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan so you can enjoy long-term relief.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What at-home remedies can relieve dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Make sure to stay hydrated and wear sunglasses whenever outdoors. If you use an indoor heater or air conditioner, direct the airflow away from your face. Use a humidifier at home and at work. You can also try using a warm eye compress. Ask your eye doctor for instructions on how to do so. But keep in mind that trying to manage dry eye syndrome without seeing a dry eye optometrist won’t be as effective.

Q: How is dry eye syndrome treated?

  • A: The type of treatment depends on what’s causing the symptoms. For example, if premature tear evaporation is the problem, your optometrist may prescribe eye drops. Or if your meibomian glands aren’t functioning as they should, unclogging the glands may do the trick. Medicated eye ointment or drops may be prescribed, or we may recommend certain in-office dry eye treatments. Each treatment plan is carefully formulated with your eyes and lifestyle in mind.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

4 Facts You Should Know About Scleral Lenses

Woman wearing Scleral Lenses scenic viewDo you have keratoconus or another type of corneal irregularity due to a medical condition or post-surgical complications? Are you considering giving up conventional contacts due to dry eye syndrome?

Consider scleral contact lenses! Contact Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte to learn more and to discover a new sense of freedom with sclerals!

What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Sclerals are customized rigid gas permeable lenses that are wider than conventional lenses. Their name reflects the fact that they vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye.

Scleral contact lenses are 14-24 mm in diameter, while regular contacts are 9mm. This gives sclerals room to accommodate irregularly shaped corneas and provides a reservoir of moisture to soothe dry eyes.

4 Essential Facts About Scleral Contact Lenses

1. Sclerals Are the Right Fit for Irregularly Shaped Corneas

Keratoconus, astigmatism and complications from eye surgery can all result in an irregular-shaped cornea, and wearing contact lenses when your eyes are hard to fit can be challenging. Because sclerals are larger than regular contacts and don’t sit on the sensitive cornea, they provide lots of space and a comfortable fit.

2. Scleral Contact Lenses Can Reduce Dry Eye Symptoms

If you have dry eye syndrome, you may be tempted to give up on wearing contacts altogether. Scleral lenses are ideal for people with dry, itchy and irritated eyes. A lubricating pool of saline solution inside each scleral lens can reduce or even eliminate dry eye discomfort.

3. Sclerals Create a Wider Field of Vision

The width of sclerals not only makes them more comfortable but can extend your field of vision. Their diameter can expand your optic zone and make your peripheral vision sharper and clearer.

4. Sclerals Are Durable and Long-Lasting

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses, including scleral lenses, last longer than conventional soft contacts. Their durable materials are designed to resist wear and tear, which is also why scleral lenses don’t require frequent replacements.

Enjoy the convenience and clear vision scleral lenses by scheduling an appointment with Excel Eyecare OD PA and discover whether scleral lenses are the right choice for you.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: Can I exercise with scleral lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses are ideal for people who lead active lives—whether you’re a professional athlete or just like to pass a ball around with friends at the park. Thanks to their greater width, scleral lenses stay in place on the eye more than standard lenses while simultaneously providing clear crisp vision. That said, scleral lenses aren’t recommended for martial arts and other sports with a higher-than-usual rate of facial injuries.

Q: If I have keratoconus, can I avoid corneal surgery with scleral lenses?

  • A: A study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology (2018) that examined 51 patients with advanced keratoconus found that 40 of them didn’t need surgery after wearing scleral lenses. In fact, wearing them reduced the need for corneal transplant or keratoplasty by half during a 5-year period.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 980-319-1870

Can a Brain Injury Affect Vision?

Can a Brain Injury Affect Visio 640×350If you’ve been experiencing blurry vision, double vision or other visual symptoms following a car accident, serious fall or blow to the head, it’s almost certainly a result of your traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, up to 90% of people with TBI’s have disrupted vision that can last days, weeks, months and even years after their accident.

Neuro-optometrists diagnose and treat the symptoms of post trauma vision syndrome. Schedule an appointment with in Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities. to find the relief you’ve been seeking.

Can a Traumatic Brain Injury Cause Vision Problems?

Concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries affect 10 million people worldwide every year. Falls, car accidents and sports injuries are leading causes of TBI’s.

Visual problems from TBI’s often go undiagnosed in the rush to treat more urgent injuries, such as a brain bleed or facial lacerations. And in some cases, visual problems may begin later.

Vision isn’t just about eyesight. For the visual system to work properly, there must be accurate communication between the eyes and the brain. A TBI can damage the neural connections between the eyes and the brain, causing significant visual deficits.

When a fall or other blow to the head causes the soft brain to suddenly impact the hard skull cavity, this violent movement can damage the fragile cranial nerves and brain cells, resulting in severe damage. This damage makes it more difficult for neural pathways to transmit clear and accurate messages to the brain, and results in a range of debilitating symptoms.

Visual Problems After a Brain Injury

A TBI can cause the following visual symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye strain

A TBI can also cause problems with visual skills, including:

  • Eye teaming – eyes don’t work together efficiently
  • Visual acuity – difficulty seeing near or far away objects
  • Focusing – trouble maintaining clear vision or transitioning focus from one object to another
  • Disrupted eye movements – you have a hard time tracking something with your eyes and may experience reading problems
  • Motion sensitivity – diminished ability to see things clearly when you’re moving. You may experience dizziness and motion sickness
  • Limited visual field – Peripheral vision loss

Can I Improve My Vision After a TBI?

If you have post traumatic vision symptoms, schedule an appointment with a neuro-optometrist, who specializes in vision disruptions caused by head trauma or neurological conditions. Your neuro-optometrist will give you an assessment to identify problems and prescribe a neuro-optometric treatment program to improve your vision.

A neuro-optometric treatment program may include:

  • Prism lenses
  • Prescription lenses
  • Neuro-optometric therapy – eye exercises to retrain your eyes, nervous system and brain to communicate effectively
  • Syntonic phototherapy – balances the autonomic nervous system using light therapy

Are you experiencing visual problems since your accident? Schedule a functional eye exam at in Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities. and start feeling and seeing better.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: Can whiplash after a car accident cause vision problems?

  • A: Whiplash occurs when a collision quickly thrusts your neck forward and back. But whiplash doesn’t just affect the neck. It can also impact your brain and cranial nerves. If you have whiplash and are experiencing blurred vision, dizziness or other vision disruptions, schedule an appointment at to see if you can benefit from neuro-optometric therapy.

Q: Can a neuro-optometrist treat vision problems related to vestibular dysfunction?

  • A: Dizziness and motion sickness after a head trauma can be the result of vestibular dysfunction, damage to the inner ear and sections of the brain stem. You may experience blurry vision, dizziness, vertigo and lack of coordination. If you have any of these symptoms, contact us at and schedule a neuro-optometric eye exam.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Could Working From Home Be Hurting Your Vision?

Working at home is a great way to ditch your commute and enjoy more flexible hours, but there can be an unexpected consequence—digital eye strain. If you’re like many workers, you probably spend most of your day on a computer or other digital device, and likely experience the headache, blurred vision, sore eyes or achy back so common with digital (computer) eye strain.

In contrast to being in the office, where workers take coffee breaks and socialize, working solo at home often translates into spending more time on the computer without breaks, and often beyond the typical 9 to 5 schedule. This can increase the likelihood of developing digital eye strain.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome (CVS), affects an estimated 70% of adults, especially those between the ages of 18 and 34.The eye strain results from extended hours focusing on a computer screen, and may be worsened by hours of exposure to blue light, high-energy visible light emitted by digital screens.

Blue light can cause short-term eye strain and discomfort, and scientists are researching whether it could also be linked to serious eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Moreover, staring at a screen, or even a printed book, causes people to blink up to 66% less often. Blinking is essential as it hydrates your eyes and stimulates the release of oil from the tiny glands in your eyelids. This oil also prevents tears from evaporating too quickly, thus drying out the eyes. Dry eyes can cause blurry vision, which further exacerbates eye strain.

What Are the Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain?

The following are common symptoms of digital eye strain:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye soreness
  • Headaches Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Neck, back and shoulder pain

How Can I Prevent Digital Eye Strain?

No need to ditch your job in order to avoid eye strain. There are other, more practical, ways to lessen the negative impact of screen time on our eyes. Below are some helpful tips.

Take Breaks

Even if you aren’t at the office and may not have co-workers to hang out with at the coffee machine or water cooler, make sure to take frequent breaks that don’t require screen time. Perhaps take a walk or reward yourself with a short nap. These breaks not only give your eyes a rest, but can rest your mind for a few minutes so you can work more efficiently.

Consider adopting the 20/20/20 habit. For every 20 minutes you spend in front of a screen, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. This will prevent you from overstraining your eyes and will encourage you to blink more, providing your eyes with much-needed hydration.

Adjust Screen Brightness

Bright screens can place a significant burden on your eyes. Simply adjusting your screen’s brightness can help rest your eyes.

See Your Eye Doctor

If you spend prolonged periods in front of the screen, it’s important to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor to discuss whether you would benefit from lubricating eye drops or a pair of computer glasses. These computer glasses (or blue light glasses) allow your eyes to relax and make you feel as if you’re focusing on faraway objects. They also reduce glare and filter out blue light.

Whether you’re suffering from any of the symptoms related to digital eye strain or simply want to prevent it, we invite you to book an appointment with Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte. With the right eye care and work habits, you should be able to successfully and quickly reduce and prevent eye strain.

Q&A With Our Optometrist

How long does it take to recover from computer eye strain?

If you don’t have an underlying eye condition, symptoms of digital eye strain can sometimes disappear within a few hours or days. But if you have recurrent eye strain, speak with your eye doctor, as the right eye drops or computer glasses could improve your visual comfort and quality of life.

Can digital eye strain affect my work productivity?

You may think spending hours in front of a computer screen will improve your productivity, when in reality, it may have the opposite effect. According to a study at the University of Alabama/Birmingham School of Optometry, even minor vision problems, such as eye strain, disrupt worker productivity by at least 20%.

So make sure to take steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen and establish proper working distances and posture for screen viewing. To learn more and to alleviate or prevent eye strain, contact Excel Eyecare OD PA today.

Can Hitting Your Head Cause Blurred Vision?

Have You Experienced Blurry Vision After Hitting Your Head 640×350People often experience blurry vision after brain trauma, especially from a concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, about 90% of patients with a traumatic brain injury will experience some visual symptoms that can negatively affect their quality of life.

Fortunately, neuro-optometric therapy can offer relief to many patients with head injuries. Contact Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte to find out how we can help restore your vision and quality of life.

How Can Hitting Your Head Affect Your Vision?

While some minor head injuries result in nothing more than a bump or bruise, in more serious head injuries, known as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), the brain impacts against the hard skull, often with powerful force. This impact can damage fragile nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Since 70% of our brain is responsible for visual processing, it’s no surprise that a TBI can cause blurred vision and other uncomfortable post-injury visual symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dizziness
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Double vision
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems

Why You Should Schedule an Appointment with a Neuro-Optometrist

When a head injury occurs, vision problems often take a backseat to more urgent concerns, such as relieving pressure on the brain or treating lacerations to the head or face. But that doesn’t mean vision problems can or should be ignored. Any vision problems related to a head injury can severely affect a person’s ability to work, study, drive and carry out day-to-day tasks.

A neuro-optometrist diagnoses and treats a whole range of communication problems between the visual system and the brain caused by traumatic brain injuries (TBI), physical disabilities or other neurological conditions, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

Can Vision Be Restored After a Head Injury?

Yes, especially with the help of neuro-optometric rehabilitation. The first step is scheduling a functional eye exam with your neuro-optometrist. During the exam your eye doctor will test the following visual skills:

  • Eye teaming
  • Eye tracking
  • Eye focusing
  • Visual processing
  • Peripheral vision
  • Spatial awareness
  • Lazy eye and eye turns

What Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation?

Once your neuro-optometrist has diagnosed your condition, they will prescribe a customized program to relieve your symptoms. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a scientifically proven treatment plan that helps strengthen the functioning of the neurologically damaged visual system. The program relies on the brain’s neuroplasticity to improve the communication between the brain and the eyes.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy involves in-session training and at-home exercises that will help restore normal vision. These may include:

  • Customized program of eye exercises
  • Prism glasses that help the brain and eyes to work together
  • Computer-assisted eye exercises
  • Corrective eye patches

Want to see clearly again after a head injury? Schedule an appointment by contacting Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte today!

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: How Long Does Blurred Vision Last After a Head Injury?

  • A: Although blurry vision sometimes goes away a couple of weeks after a head injury, it’s best not to leave it to chance, hoping visual problems will correct on their own. If you experience any vision problems after a head injury, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment with a neuro-optometrist. Neuro-optometric therapy can often correct blurry vision long-term by dealing with the root cause of your vision problems following a TBI.

Q: Is a Traumatic Brain Injury the Same as a Concussion?

  • A: A TBI is a damage to the brain caused by impact. A concussion is considered a milder type of TBI. However, even a mild concussion can cause significant vision problems.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

10% of Children Have Undetected Vision Problems

teacher helping a child with Undetected Vision ProblemsAlmost every classroom has children who struggle more than their peers, whether academically, socially or [behaviorally].

What many parents and teachers don’t realize is that these kids may have a visual skill deficit that’s triggering their struggles.

Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children will go through early childhood with an undiagnosed visual problem that can lead to learning and behavioral problems.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a struggling child evaluated by a developmental optometrist to rule out, identify and treat any visual dysfunction with vision therapy.

At Excel Eyecare OD PA, we believe that educating parents and teachers about the warning signs of visual dysfunction is the first step toward ensuring that every child with a visual deficit is given the treatment they need to thrive.

Why Are Vision Problems So Commonly Overlooked?

Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, often lack the verbal skills necessary to communicate a visual problem.

And even if they’re able to communicate, most kids may simply assume that their vision is fine, and that they see the world the way everybody else does.

School vision screenings also play a role here.

These basic screenings really only test a child’s eyesight, or visual acuity — how clearly they see distant objects. What the screenings fail to test are the rest of the 16 visual skills necessary for healthy development and learning. Some examples are eye tracking, focusing, convergence and eye teaming.

In other words, a child can pass the school’s vision screening with flying colors and still have a visual skills deficit that can negatively affect learning and behavior.

Telltale Signs of Visual Dysfunction In Children

So, how do you know if your child or student has a visual problem?

While the only way to know for sure is through a functional visual evaluation, there are some signs and symptoms to watch for that may warrant a call to Excel Eyecare OD PA.

A child with visual skills deficits may experience any of the following medical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Poor hand-eye coordination or clumsiness
Behavioral/academic problems that can arise due to vision problems include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Refusal or hesitation to do homework
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Skips lines or words when reading
  • Frequent eye rubbing and head tilting

If a child displays any of the above symptoms, call ​​Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte to schedule a functional visual evaluation.

How Does Vision Therapy Work

If a visual deficit is detected, we may recommend vision therapy as the best treatment option.

Vision therapy is a customized treatment program that trains the eyes and brain to communicate seamlessly. When the eyes don’t send a unified message to the brain, or the brain has difficulty processing incoming visual information, vision therapy works by correcting those pathways at the source.

During a vision therapy session, your child will be shown and instructed to do several eye exercises to strengthen the visual system. Vision therapy sessions are done in-office, but certain eye exercises should be [practiced] at home, in-between visits.

Vision therapy has been clinically shown to effectively treat eye misalignment disorders, lazy eye (amblyopia), focusing problems, convergence insufficiencies and ocular motor dysfunctions.

Our skilled and friendly optometric team has lots of experience working with children of all ages and helping them feel safe and comfortable during the entire process.

Make sure that your child isn’t part of the 10% of kids with undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, visual skills deficits. To schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: How can visual dysfunction affect learning and development?

  • A: An estimated 80% of classroom learning is dependent on vision. Subpar visual skills can impede learning by making it unnecessarily difficult for a child to see the board from their seat, read, write, play sports and interact confidently with their peers. Ultimately, this can lead to reduced self-esteem. Making sure your child’s vision is healthy will set them up for academic, social and overall success.

Q: How long does vision therapy take?

  • A: The length depends on each patient’s individual condition and needs. A vision therapy program can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months. Speak with your eye doctor about how long your vision therapy program is expected to take.

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What Exactly is an Eye Chart?

If there’s one aspect of optometry that everyone recognizes, it’s the traditional eye chart, with its rows of big letters on top, which gradually become smaller the farther down you go. This chart is usually known as the Snellen chart.

Yet how much do you really know about this eye chart? Are all eye charts the same? How are these eye charts used? And when were they invented?

Here’s everything you need to know about eye charts and more!

What is an Eye Chart?

An eye chart is one of the tools your eye doctor uses to assess your eyesight. Based on how well you can see various letters on the chart, your optometrist will determine whether you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) or astigmatism, and will measure the prescription that will give you the clearest, most comfortable vision.

Are All Eye Charts The Same?

There are a number of variations to the standard Snellen eye chart. The one an eye doctor uses depends on the personal needs and abilities of the patient. For example, eye doctors will use charts with pictures or patterns for younger children who may not have learned to read or identify letters and numbers.

There are also certain charts that specifically measure distance vision, while others are better for measuring near vision.

History of the Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen eye chart was developed by Dutch eye doctor Hermann Snellen in the 1860s. Before this standardized eye chart was developed, each eye doctor had their own chart that they preferred to use.

Having so many different eye charts made it impossible to standardize the vision correction available to patients. Eyeglass makers didn’t receive the defined measurements they needed to accurately design, manufacture and measure the optical prescriptions their patients needed.

For the first time, the Snellen eye chart allowed a person to provide a standardized prescription from any eye care provider they chose to any eyeglass maker, and get the same optical lenses to accurately correct their vision.

How The Snellen Chart Is Used in Eye Exams

The standard Snellen chart displays 11 rows of capital letters, with the first row consisting of a single large letter. The farther down the chart you go, the smaller the letters become.

Your Charlotte eye doctor will ask you to look through a phoropter – an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an eye exam – and look at the Snellen chart placed 20 feet away. Your eye doctor will prescribe the lenses that provide you with the clearest and most comfortable vision.

In many offices, where 20 feet of space may not be available, you’ll be asked to view the chart through a mirror. This provides the same visual experience as if you were standing 20 feet away.

If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can see what an average person can see on an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. On the other hand, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you can only see clearly from 20 feet away what a person with perfect vision can see clearly from 40 feet away.

If you have 20/200 vision, the legal definition of blindness, this means what a person with perfect vision can see from 200 feet away, you can see from 20 feet away.

Does 20/20 Visual Acuity Mean Perfect Vision?

No. While eye chart tests identify refractive errors, they can’t detect signs of visual skill deficiencies or diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. These are diagnosed using advanced equipment as part of a comprehensive eye exam with your local Charlotte eye doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions are essential to ensuring long-term vision and eye health.

For more information, give us a call at 980-734-1730 or visit us in person at Excel Eyecare OD PA, today!

Q&A With Your Local Optometrist

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

You only have one set of eyes – don’t take them for granted!

Make sure to implement the following habits for healthy eyes (and body). These include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water to hydrate your body and eyes
  • Not smoking, and avoiding 2nd-hand smoke
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Maintaining normal BMI with regular exercise
  • Regular visits to your eye doctor as recommended

What health conditions can an eye exam detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can often detect certain underlying diseases that can threaten your sight and eye health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, autoimmune conditions and thyroid disorders. This is why having your eyes checked regularly is key. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome and the higher your quality of life.