Emo-amblyopia controversy: Can Bieber fringe bang cut cause lazy eye?

Emosmile, courtesy Lockal. Click for info.
The emo-amblyopia controversy began when leading Australian Optometrist Andrew Hogan said, “If a young emo chap has a fringe covering one eye all the time, that eye won’t see a lot of detail…and if it happens from a young age, that eye can become amblyotic.” Dr. Hogan, serving three years as President of the Optometrists Association, and currently sitting on the National Executive, continued to explain, according to TheMercury, that the most vulnerable time for this to happen is before age seven, but he said new research shows vision could be affected even later.

At least two Australian newspapers reported the story, apparently originating on May 13, at or near midnight on May 14. Australia’s TheTelegraph published No fringe benefits for hairstyles that flop over one eye on May 14, 2012, at 12:00am, and Tasmania’s TheMercury released its Trendy hair may be a hazard one minute later, at 12:01am. The story spread quickly as The Huffington Post and other news media picked it later that day.

The pot was stirred when New Jersey Optometrist and co-author of the clinical practice guidelines on amblyopia for the American Optometric Association, Dr. Leonard Press, spoke with MSNBC’s The Body Odd reporter Brian Alexander. Dr. Press said, “The story would only be true if you had somebody young enough, and if that person never looked out of that eye — if it was blocked 24-7. The reason it’s false is that you don’t have that constant deprivation.” MSNBC reports that, according to Dr. Press, “the visual system ‘is so well-established’ after childhood, that ‘combing your hair over your eye will not do anything to that system.’”

The story received attention to an even more wide-spread audience when ABC’s Good Morining America featured it on May 16, asking if Justin Bieber’s haircut causes lazy eye.

Emo originated in the mid-1980’s with the hardcore punk movement of Washington, D.C., where it was known as “emotional hardcore” or “emocore,” but it didn’t break into the mainstream media until the summer of 2002, according to Wikipedia. “Today emo is commonly tied to both music and fashion,” Wikipedia explains. “In the early 2000s, emo fashion was associated with a clean cut look, but as the style spread to younger teenagers, the style has become darker, with long bangs.”

It is these long side-swept bangs that are at the heart of the current emo-amblyopia controversy. I’ve seen an occasional person paw their dangling locks away from their eyes as far back as I can remember, but the trend to peep through sweep fringes has never been as consistent as it is among many young people today. It will be interesting to see the outcome of these two opposing professional opinions, both from well-respected Optometrists, for which only time can give a certain outcome.

My Travelin’ Eye: book review

My Travelin' EyeMy Travelin’ Eye by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

“When I was born, I came out looking both ways.” That’s how Jenny Sue begins her beautifully illustrated children’s book, My Travelin’ Eye. She writes, draws, and colors her “own experience as a seven-year-old with a lazy, wandering eye, glasses, and a patch” into a charming memoir story for children.

Jenny Sue helps kids relate by sharing how she was sometimes made fun of, but she quickly turns the disadvantages of a travelin’ eye into a positive experience. Most of us with strabismus bemoan how our eyes won’t work together. But Jenny Sue discovered that, “It’s sort of like having a twin.” Read the book to see how she took advantage of each eye’s own unique functions, apart from the other.

Children will relate as she shares how scary it was when her good eye was patched and she was given big, thick, red glasses. Vision suffered, teachers chided, and kids pointed. She cried herself to sleep, but next morning she told her mother how she felt, and her mother helped her design her first fashion-patch. The patch and glasses did their magic, her vision improved, and soon she was making a new fashion-patch each day. She was the envy of her class as “all the kids at school wanted to wear a ‘fashion-patch,’ but they couldn’t, not without a note from their ophthalmologist.” Jenny Sue illustrates 2 full pages of this 11.2 x 9.3 inch book with 24 different life-size eye patch designs that will get you started helping your child design eye their own creative eye patches.

Finally the day came — her travelin’ eye had “woken up,” and her eyes were learning to work together. The patch was gone, but the glasses were here to stay. So Jenny Sue and her mom decorated them into fashion-glasses, and…you guessed it! Once again, all the kids at school wanted their own fashion-glasses, “but they couldn’t, not without a special note from their ophthalmologist.”

Jenny concludes her book with an inspirational note for all of us who see the world in different directions: “My travelin’ eye still wonders sometimes,” Jenny writes, “but that’s the true nature of an artist — to see the world in her own unique way.”

This book is almost as much fun for adults as it is for children, and it will quickly become a favorite. Purchase the My Travelin’ Eye today. You’ll be glad you did! You can also visit the My Travelin’ Eye page at Jenny Sue’s Dancing Elephant Studio for more information.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the author for review, but my review is my honest opinion of the book.

New fun video game offers vision training in minutes a day!

Screenshots of gameFlash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day is a new video game for Nintendo DS. It’s designed to improve hand-eye coordination, focus, and peripheral vision through a series of fun games. Flash Focuswas developed in Japan and is distributed there as well as in Europe, the UK, and Australia as “Sight Training: Enjoy Exercising and Relaxing Your Eyes.”

Created under the supervision of Dr Hisao Ishigaki, a leader in the field of visual training for athletes, Flash Focusmodels vision training programs used by top athletes. It includes a lot of sports related activities like hitting baseballs and running with a football. There are also games like ‘Box Track,’ in which a dot is placed under one of three boxes, with the user having to track where it has moved to. Flash Focus customized training

Users complete daily training activities to challenge Hand-Eye Coordination, Peripheral Vision, Dynamic Visual Acuity, Momentary Vision and Eye Movement, then track their results with a calendar and easy-to-understand charts.

The exceptional thing about this game is that the software checks each individual user’s visual strength and offers a customized training program based on their score. It works like this:

Flash focus ability chartWhen users first begin, their visual strength in the above five aspects of vision, termed ‘Focus Ability’ in this software, will be checked through a series of exercises and from these results an overall in-game ‘Eye Age score’ is given. When the in-game ‘Eye Age score’ has been calculated, a regular training program is proposed with the aim of creating an overall balance of ‘Focus Ability.’

Recognizing the importance of relaxing the eyes, the game also includes an excellent Eye Relaxation program.

The Touch Generations website offers a thorough explanation of Sight Training, and the Five Aspects of Focus Ability and the Eye Age Check. There is also an excellent Explanatory Video of the game, as well as a video on Relaxing the Eyes, an Interview with Dr Ishigaki, and Screenshots of the game.

Watch trailer on You Tube.

Sight Training as reviewed in The Sun UK newspaper.

Review of Sight Training from Nintendic.

Lazy eye amblyopia research study

red graph with markerAccording to the European research news resource, AlphaGalileo.Org, “Researchers at the University of Bradford are seeking volunteers for a study into the condition ‘amblyopia’ which is more commonly known as ‘lazy eye’.”

According to this report, the study will be done using a “new state-of-the-art Optical Coherence Tomographer…used to examine the structure of the eye in fine detail.”

Researchers hope that as a result of this study they will “be able to tell in advance who will benefit most from treatment and, as a result,… spare some children from the trauma of wearing an eye patch for long periods of time.”

They are looking for volunteers of all ages. Please see the complete article for contact information if you are interested in this study:

Lazy eye research seeks volunteers published by AlphaGalileo.org, October 11,2007.

Photo credit: sanja gjenero

Fixing the inner problem of strabismus: which direction is best?

Eunice from Singapore writes:

arrows pointing in opposite directionsHi, Greetings from Singapore. I am very worried about my son age 3+ now, his eyes is always drifting away when he’s tried or ill. I guess that called Strabismus, right ? Any cured or treatment for him, he’s so young at age. i consulted a eye specialist , he suggest operations to aline the eyeballs, but i am much worried its just a cosmetic appearance and the inner problem not sloved, please advise.

Eunice, this is the difficult question those of us with strabismus face. Many of us have felt very alone as we struggled with which way to go. Thankfully we are finding each other now on places like Eyes Apart. But it is still confusing because eye care professionals don’t agree on what is the best treatment for strabismus.

The thinking behind aligning the eyes as perfectly as possible by surgery is that it enables the brain to direct them together as a unit more easily. On the other hand, doctors who treat strabismus with special exercises (vision therapy) believe that the solution is re-teaching the brain how to direct the eyes. There is lots of controversy about these two most popular treatments for strabismus.

The one thing most everyone is in agreement on is that treatment needs to start early. If treatment can be provided when a child is young, before his or her vision patterns have matured, it is easier to establish correct vision.

You can talk with people who have strabismus or other parents who have faced similar questions in our email support group. See Eyes Apart Strabismus Support Group for more information.

Photo credit: G?zde Otman