Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ultraviolet Light - is it good or bad?

Excessive exposure to the sun can result in great pleasure and heartache.  Sun rays include ultraviolet light.  Did you know that we need some ultraviolet everyday?  Too much or too little can be a problem.  Many are shocked that any sun exposure can be good for us.  They condemn the sun for a number of health problems.  However moderate amounts of ultraviolet light exposure can provide many health benefits.

Skin cancer and sunburn are associated with too much ultraviolet.  Skin melanoma results when our DNA is damaged from the sun.  Ultraviolet can accelerate aging of the skin.  Unfortunately, some of the earlier sunscreen lotions with PABA were found to be cancer-causing when exposed to ultraviolet.  The new lotions are more protective.

Snow blindness can occur from too much ultraviolet exposure while skiing or in the snow for extended periods when the sun is out.  Prolonged exposure results in inflammation of the front of the eye (cornea), pink eye (conjunctivitis), and cataracts (cloudiness of the inside eye).

Sunlight plays an important role in the synthesis of vitamin D.  Cholesterol in our skin is converted to pre-vitamin D.  Pre-vitamin D is changed to vitamin D by the normal heat of the body.  Blood carries vitamin D to the liver and kidney.  Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium in the intestines.  Calcium is necessary for nerve function and helps prevent osteoporosis.

Therefore UV radiation reduces cholesterol.  Cholesterol concentration in the skin is higher than in most other organs.  When the cholesterol in the skin is converted to pre-vitamin D, the cholesterol lost is replaced by cholesterol in the blood.  Cholesterol moves back and forth between the skin and bloodstream.

Exposure to ultraviolet also results in lower blood pressure.  This is usually between 6-8mm Hg according to various studies.  In fact, sun therapy was often used by physicians before blood pressure medications were developed.

As in most things, moderation is the key with ultraviolet light exposure.  Too much can cause skin cancer, cataracts and snow blindness.  Our blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, however, can be improved with exposure to ultraviolet light.  Enjoy the sun when you can but be careful with overexposure.

---James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
    Agape Learning & Optometry Center
    Thousand Oaks, CA  91360

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vision & Learning: COVD White Paper

Research has demonstrated that vision is a contributing factor to an individual’s ability to attend and respond to classroom instruction. A major portion of what we learn is taken in through the visual system.

There are many aspects of vision which might affect an individual’s abilities to attend and respond to teacher instruction.  It is well known that nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, all of which can result in blurred vision or eye strain, relate to performance in the classroom. 

However, individuals may have focusing problems which do not allow them to rapidly change focus from book to chalkboard and vice versa. 

They may have difficulty using both eyes together.  This dysfunction can require excess effort to overcome and may interfere with visual information processing.

Also, an individual may have difficulty controlling eye movements. This could result in loss of place when reading, frequent guessing of words, need for the use of the finger to maintain one’s place, or other more subtle difficulties.

Visual information processing problems may result in children being overwhelmed the day they start school.  The academic curriculum is designed on the assumption that children possess certain visual information processing abilities, as well as other skills, at certain chronological ages. In other words, is the child visually ready for school?  The child who has not developed the required level of skill may have difficulty from "day one".  These difficulties might manifest themselves as problems in reading, writing, mathematics, spelling, thinking, sports endeavors, playground activities, and even the social relationships children have with their siblings and peers.

Individuals manifesting visual problems associated with learning problems may benefit from the use of lenses and prisms for both the prevention and remediation of these visual problems. Other visual problems might best be remediated by optometric vision therapy.  This includes the application of lenses and prisms in conjunction with procedures to provide the individual with strategies which will aid in the development of adequate visual performance.

There are numerous research and clinical studies demonstrating the effectiveness of optometric vision therapy for treating problems in the functioning of the visual system.  There are also numerous case reports supporting specific diagnoses and treatment plans.  Studies have also demonstrated visual deficiencies and visual information processing deficits in older individuals, supporting the fact that children do not simply outgrow these deficits.

Members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) have post graduate education in vision and learning. Fellows of the College are certified in the diagnosis and treatment of learning related vision problems. For further information contact COVD or consult with your COVD optometrist.

This informational paper was produced by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, which board certifies qualified optometric physicians in vision therapy. For further information, see our website,

I have attained Fellowship status in COVD.  The initials after OD (Doctor of Optometry), FCOVD indicate Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.  There are approximately 500 Fellows in the world that have completed the written and oral requirements.  Give me a call with any questions.

--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
   Agape Learning & Optometry Center
   Thousand Oaks, CA   91360
   (805)495 3937

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

KABC-TV Channel 7 Is it ADD or a Vision Problem?

In 2010, 4.5 million U.S.children were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  That is approximately 7% of all the children in the U.S.  A new study out of Michigan indicates that over 1 million of these kids may actually have a vision problem which is being wrongly diagnosed as ADD. 

Kids with learning problems will often have these types of developmental vision problems.  These kids can often see quite well (20/20) but have problems with eye coordination, tracking or processing.  On the surface it appears as if they have ADD but these subtle vision problems are the real deficit.

I can perform the sensitive developmental vision testing needed to diagnose these problems.  Give me a call with questions.

--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
   Agape Learning & Optometry Center
   Thousand Oaks, CA  91360
   (805)495 3937

Monday, March 7, 2011

ADHD? Poor concentration? (video)

More than 1 million children may be misdiagnosed as ADHD!!  This news video comes from Minnesota.  Dr. Lori Mowbray demonstrates some optometric in-office vision therapy procedures used in the treatment of convergence insufficiency (CI). 

If this sounds like your child, give us a call.  There is no reason to suffer with this problem when it can be fixed relatively easily.

--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
   Agape Learning & Optometry Center
   Thousand Oaks, CA  91360
   (805)495 3937

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Slow reading speed? Loss of concentration?

Studies from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutue of Health indicate approximately 5% of the school population has a condition called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).  That means for a local school district like ours, there will be approximately 1000 children with CI.  Treatment is based on symptoms.  The most common symptoms are:
     1) Slow reading speed
     2) Loss of place when reading
     3) Loss of concentration when reading
     4) Eye strain
     5) Headaches
     6) Blurry vision
     7) Double vision

If your child does have CI, in-office optometric vision therapy has been proven to provide the highest success rate.  In order to pinpoint the problem, give us a call.

--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
     Agape Learning & Optometry Center
     Thousand Oaks, CA  91360
     (805) 495 3937