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AMD

5 Important Questions to Ask After a Macular Degeneration (AMD) Diagnosis

Age-related macular degeneration (or AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults in the United States.  In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of older Americans who are affected with some form of the disease is expected to double, to 88 million, by the year 2050.  If you have recently received a diagnosis of AMD, you are probably concerned about what it actually means to live with this eye condition.  In order to alleviate some of that concern, here are some questions you can ask us about during your visit so you know what changes to expect in your daily life.

 

Is There a Difference Between Wet and Dry AMD?

There is a difference, and it is important to know which form you have been diagnosed with.  While a majority of cases are dry, the remaining cases are wet, which is more serious.  It is possible to be diagnosed with dry AMD, but progress to wet, which accounts for the most severe cases of vision loss.

 

What Treatment is Available?

Unfortunately, there is no outright cure for AMD.  However, there are many options available to treat the disease which can markedly improve your vision.  For instance, dietary supplements, injections and laser treatments have all been shown to be effective forms of treatment.  We will thoroughly assess the current progression of your AMD and offer guidance as to which treatment options would be most beneficial.

 

Is There Anything I Can Do to Slow the Progression of my AMD?

Certain lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and healthy food options, have been shown to make a difference in terms of AMD progression.  Here at Family Vision Development Center, our philosophy of whole body wellness helps us make recommendations to our patients that extend beyond the eyes. This individualized care has proven to be very beneficial to those who are dealing with AMD.

 

Are There Certain Devices That Can Help Me Live With Vision Loss From AMD?

Daily life can definitely become more challenging when macular degeneration is affecting your vision.  However, there are many kinds of helpful low-vision devices, such as magnifiers or telescopic glasses.  We are happy to provide information on new technologies and low-vision resources that can make your daily life easier to manage.

 

Will I Pass it on to My Kids?

AMD can be hereditary, which means your children may have a greater chance of developing some form of macular degeneration as they get older.  If you have been diagnosed, we will help you determine, based on your medical history and other factors, if your children are at a higher risk for developing the disease.

Contact Family Vision Development Center at 630-862-2020 to schedule your appointment in our Aurora office.  We look forward to helping you work through your concerns about your AMD diagnosis and develop the right tools to manage the disease in your daily life.

 

Additional information can be referenced here

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eye exam

5 Hidden Health Issues that an Eye Exam can Uncover

As you hopefully already know, getting regular comprehensive eye exams is the best way to maintain good overall eye health.  But what you may not know, is that it is a vital procedure you should incorporate into your regular health maintenance routine.  The reason being, not only can an eye exam detect vision disorders and conditions, but it can also provide important clues as to the presence of some other serious health issues.  Often times, this gives you the opportunity to take essential early action toward treatment.  Here are some health issues our eye exam can detect:

 

Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes in 2018.  In 2017 it was the seventh leading cause of death in the US.  However, millions of people go undiagnosed and do not receive the treatment they need.  An eye exam offers the chance of early detection, as it allows your eye doctor to look for changes the blood vessels in the back of your eye – a clear indicator of diabetes.

 

Cancer

Many forms of cancer can be detected in an eye exam.  For example, dark spots at the back of the eye can be an indicator of melanoma.  Likewise, retinal bleeding can be a sign of leukemia.  Even a common symptom like blurred vision can indicate brain cancer, if other causes are eliminated.  Regular eye exams can help your eye doctor detect any abnormalities quickly, allowing you to seek medical treatment as early as possible.

 

Thyroid Disease

Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a condition called Graves disease, which can affect the eyes.  Symptoms such as bulging eyes, puffiness or redness, eye pain or light sensitivity can all be indicators and should be taken seriously, as it can lead to vision loss if not treated.

 

Blood Pressure Issue

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects millions of adults in the US and many struggle to get it under control.  Untreated, it can cause serious medical issues, including death, so proper diagnosis is important.  During an eye exam, abnormalities in the blood vessels in the back of the eye can signal high blood pressure.  Additionally, it can also be characterized by blurry vision or spots on the retina.  Hypertension issues can escalate quickly, affecting both your vision and other vital organs, so it is important to seek treatment as early as possible.

 

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a problem for a large percentage of the population, but it often goes undetected.  One telltale sign of high cholesterol during an eye exam can be a colored ring around the cornea.  Additional signs can include yellow fatty deposits on the eyelids or around the eyes, or the presence of plaque in the retinal vessels.

 

It is important to remember that many medical conditions, like those mentioned above, can start with mild or no symptoms.  But when they go undiagnosed or untreated, they can quickly become serious or even life-threatening issues.  Visiting your eye doctor regularly for your regular comprehensive eye exam, even if you are not experiencing any obvious vision issues, is an extremely important part of maintaining good overall health.  The doctors at the Family Vision Development Center believe in a one-on-one approach that focuses on the whole health of our patients.  We look forward to caring for your whole family in our comfortable, professional environment.  Call us at 630-862-2020 to make your appointment or learn more.

 

Additional information can be referenced here

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vision disorders

Ease the Stress of the New School Year by Treating Vision Disorders

When school starts this year, it will look very different than ever before.  Kids will need to adapt to new school routines, which might include remote learning, modified in-person classrooms, or a combination of the two.  Obviously, this has the potential to cause added stress for your student, no matter their grade level.  The last thing your child needs is to have a vision disorder further complicating things and making it more difficult to keep up with the new changes.  A vision issue can absolutely affect a child’s ability to learn, either at school or at home.  Make sure your student has every opportunity to be successful, by detecting and treating any vision disorders as early as possible.

 

Vision Disorders Can be Detected in a Comprehensive Eye Exam

A comprehensive vision exam is much more thorough than a standard screening, and is the best way to diagnose vision disorders as early as possible.  Some common disorders found during an exam that can affect a child’s reading ability, concentration or overall success in school include:

 

Amblyopia (lazy eye) – this disorder occurs when the eyes and brain do not work together properly, and vision in one eye becomes affected.  Over time, the brain begins using the stronger eye more frequently, which causes the vision in the weaker eye to become worse.  This can result in poor depth perception.  At times, it may cause the weaker eye to drift in and out.

 

Accomodation (focusing) disorder – this type of disorder affects a child’s ability to focus their eyes properly, especially at near distances.  When this vision disorder is present, a child may struggle with blurred vision, eye discomfort or headaches, blinking or excessive rubbing of the eyes.  Understandably, reading, writing assignments and close computer work can become very difficult.

 

Strabismus – this type of vision disorder occurs when the eyes are not aligned properly.  It can be characterized by an inward, outward, upward or downward turning of one or both eyes.  It is important to note that this condition may be constant or intermittent, and the issue may not be largely obvious.  In these cases, an exam is the best way to detect a problem.  A misalignment of the eyes can result in double vision, eye strain and headaches, and can greatly affect a child’s reading ability and self-esteem if the eye turn is very large.

 

Convergence insufficiency – this condition is characterized by the inability to move and focus both eyes inward on close objects.  A child would often notice the symptoms when reading or doing other close work.  These symptoms can include double vision, headaches, eye strain, squinting, closing or covering one eye to look up close or difficulty reading or concentrating.

 

Vision Therapy Can Help Resolve These Vision Disorders

Typically, a vision disorder, such as those described above, will not go away on its own. One very effective form of treatment is a personalized vision therapy program.  The providers at Family Vision Development Center are highly skilled and have advanced training in these customized in-office programs.  Known as a kind of physical therapy for the visual system, vision therapy can help to retrain the eyes and brain though a series of eye exercises in order to help patients recover normal visual skills.

 

Schedule Your Appointment Now

Many vision disorders often go undetected in the absence of a comprehensive vision exam.  Of course, the longer a child goes without treatment, the worse the condition can get.  Now that school is starting, make sure they are able to keep up!  Call our office at 630-862-2020 to schedule your appointment or visit us online to learn more about our family practice.

 

Additional information can be referenced here and here

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healthy vision

5 Simple Nutrition Tips for Healthy Vision

Taking steps to maintain healthy vision is an important part of taking care of your overall well-being.  Thankfully, there are things you can incorporate into your everyday diet that can help you achieve this goal.  For example, finding ways to add in the following nutritional supplements is a simple way to support your eye health while enjoying great food.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You may have heard that eating fish is good for your eyes.  This is true, and it’s because many types of fish (like salmon, tuna, sardines or mackerel) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  These essential fatty acids have been known to protect eyes from developing macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome, while enhancing proper visual development.

Vitamin A

Healthy vision is definitely enhanced with a diet rich in vitamin A.  This important vitamin can help lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and helps to maintain a clear cornea.  Conversely, a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to dry eye, poor night vision or vision loss.  Some good sources of vitamin A include eggs, cod liver oil, fortified skim milk, colorful fruits and vegetables and green, leafy vegetables.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments of yellow, orange and red produced by some plants and algae.  Loaded with antioxidants, they are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, melons, plums, spinach and sweet potatoes.  Studies have shown that carotenoids can promote overall healthy vision as well as protect the eyes from the harmful effects of blue light exposure.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in some fruits and vegetables, and can provide tremendous benefits to your eye health.  Studies have shown this vitamin to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, as well as slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration when taken with other nutrients.  For healthy vision, add in more orange juice, strawberries, grapefruit, red and green bell peppers, broccoli or kale.

One More Healthy Vision Tip

An additional benefit worth noting is that eating healthy foods, like those mentioned above, can have a positive effect on a person’s overall weight – which can benefit their vision.  For example, extra body fat and obesity-related diseases (such as diabetes) can negatively impact your eye health and can lead to higher instances of age-related macular degeneration.  Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight can help to maintain healthy vision.

Of course, healthy vision starts with regular eye exams which allow us to get an overall assessment of your eye health and discover any changes as early as possible.  At Family Vision Development Center, we believe in whole body wellness that extends beyond the eyes.  Above all, we take pride in our one-on-one, personalized care that we offer to each patient.  Contact us at 630-862-2020 or visit us online to learn more about our high-quality services or to make your appointment.

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eye strain

Movie Buffs Should Beware of These 7 Signs of Eye Strain

Eye strain is a real problem, especially in today’s world of digital screens.  However, it does not mean you need to completely give up your favorite activities. If a movie marathon on a rainy day is your idea of the perfect Sunday afternoon, just make sure you understand the dangers of eye strain.  Here’s what to watch out for and what you can do to reduce the effects.

What Causes Eye Strain While Watching Movies or TV

Our daily lives are very geared toward the use of electronics.  So it stands to reason that we spend many hours every day staring at a digital screen.  When you add in a movie or two, the strain on your eyes can be overwhelming.  Watching TV or movies requires your eyes to focus differently than when looking at printed material.  A computer or tablet monitor, or a TV screen, can add in contrast, flickering light and glare. Additionally, when watching TV in a dark room, your eyes must constantly adjust to different levels of light from the screen.  All of these factors require your eyes to work harder and eye strain to occur.

What Does Eye Strain Feel Like

So how do you know if you are actually experiencing eye strain?  Look for these common symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision or trouble focusing
  • Dryness or watery eyes
  • Sore or tired eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Pain in the shoulders, neck or back

How to Reduce Eye Strain from Digital Screens

There are some things you can do to reduce some of the eye strain that usually accompanies watching TV or movies.  The farther you sit from the screen, the better.  In fact, it’s best to stay 8 to 10 feet from the screen if possible (or more, if the screen is very large).  Also, try to have at least some light on while watching, to avoid the extreme eye fatigue that can occur in very dark rooms.  Additionally, it’s always a good idea to give your eyes a break every once in a while.  For instance, look away from the screen every 30 minutes or so, and close your eyes frequently to allow them to rest a bit.

Vision Therapy for Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, can often be successfully treated with vision therapy treatments. After extended periods of time using a digital screen, some people may experience continued problems with their vision.  In particular, blurred vision, tired eyes or neck pain may begin to worsen.  Also, current vision conditions such as farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia could become more serious after continued screen use. Through a series of precise vision therapy eye exercises, our patients can often recover normal visual skills.

Contact us at 630-862-2020 to learn more or visit us online for additional information about the dedicated team at Family Vision Development Center.

 

Additional information can be referenced here

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reading vision therapy

Vision Therapy Can Have Life-Changing Effects on a Child’s Reading Skills

Encouraging your child to read is an important way to improve their overall language skills.  Likewise, strong reading skills can help a child succeed in school, as well as build an overall sense of self-esteem.  When a child gradually, or suddenly, seems to lose interest in reading, it is wise to look for a vision disorder as a possible cause.

The following vision issues can affect a child’s reading ability.  Fortunately, our vision therapy programs can greatly improve, or even eliminate, the symptoms of these conditions.

 

How Amblyopia Affects Reading

Amblyopia is a common vision condition in children.  This disorder occurs when the eyes and brain do not work together properly. As a result, the brain will choose to use only one eye as its primary source of visual information.  The other eye will “shut off” and will not be used very often, or at all.  Sometimes this will cause the eye to drift in or out, but many times it remains perfectly straight.  Other symptoms may include double vision, nearsightedness or farsightedness in one eye, or poor depth perception.  All of these, of course, can cause a child’s reading skills to suffer.

 

Effects of Convergence Insufficiency

Reading can be extremely difficult for a child with convergence insufficiency.  This condition is characterized by the inability to move and focus both eyes inward on close objects.  Obviously, this would affect an activity like reading.  In addition, a child with this disorder can experience eye strain, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.  Vision therapy can help treat convergence insufficiency, thereby allowing a child’s reading skills to flourish.

 

Visual Processing Disorders Also Affect Reading Skills

When a child suffers from a visual processing disorder, their brain has trouble processing the information it receives.  This condition does not affect actual clarity of vision, but rather the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes are seeing.  For example, letters like b and d might get mixed up.  Or when reading, they may read the same line several times, or skip lines completely.

Vision disorders, like those described above, can often go undetected in a standard vision screening.  Unfortunately, school-provided screenings are the only vision tests many kids receive at a young age.  As such, reading skills can continue to suffer throughout a child’s school years.  Our comprehensive vision exam is the best way to detect a wide range of vision disorders.  It is also important to note that the earlier an issue is diagnosed the better the chance of a successful treatment.  Our vision therapy programs are highly effective at any age.  But it is always better to start as soon as possible.  Contact our office at 630-862-2020 for more information or to schedule your appointment.

Additional information can be referenced here and here.

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polarized sunglasses

Polarized Sunglasses: a Smart Solution to Protect Your Eyes and Vision

The sunny days of summer are finally here to stay, at least for a while.  And that means more time outdoors and more opportunity for your eyes to get damaged by the sun’s harmful rays.  You apply sunscreen to protect your skin, but don’t forget to put on a good pair of sunglasses to ensure your eyes are also protected.  Polarized sunglasses are a good choice for many.  Read on to see if they might be right for you.

What are polarized sunglasses

The main purpose of polarized sunglasses is to get rid of glare.  Polarized lenses contain a special filter that blocks certain types of light, thereby reducing or eliminating that blinding glare often seen when bright sunlight reflects off a surface.

Why polarized sunglasses can be a good choice

There are a number of situations in which reducing glare is important, and polarized sunglasses might come in handy.  For instance, drivers can often operate their vehicle more effectively when glare is reduced from the road or even other cars.  Likewise, boaters and skiers often wear this type of eyewear to better navigate the water or snow-covered hills.

In addition to glare reduction, polarized sunglasses can allow for a truer perception of colors, improve contrast and clarity, and reduce overall eye strain.

There are some drawbacks

While polarized lenses help eliminate glare, they also reduce your ability to see LCD displays.  This means that it can be very difficult to properly view screens at an ATM or gas pump, or your car’s instrument panel on the dashboard.  Likewise, some people have trouble viewing their phone’s screen when wearing polarized sunglasses.  Additionally, pilots should definitely not wear them, as they can interfere with proper viewing of their instrument panel.

Polarized sunglasses can range in style, price and actual UV protection.  A high price tag does not always mean you will be getting the best quality.  In fact, there are some very affordable options that do a really great job.  Visit Family Vision Development Center in Aurora to view our full selection, including great brands like Maui Jim and Nike.  Of course, give us a call first at 630-862-2020 to confirm our hours and availability to help you select the perfect pair!

 

Additional information can be referenced here

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floaters

What You Need to Know About Eye “Floaters”

What are floaters?  Have you noticed little spots or string-like shapes in your vision that tend to move around when you try to focus on them? Perhaps they are more pronounced when you look at something bright, like the sky? If so, you could be experiencing a vision issue known as eye “floaters.” While floaters can be an annoying distraction, they often simply pop up as part of the normal aging process. Some, however, can be a sign of a serious eye condition. If you discover one in your field of vision, you should see your eye doctor right away to rule out any vision-threatening issues.

 What Are Floaters?

They get their name from the fact that they seem to move and drift around the eye. When you try to focus on one, you may find it shifts away. The “floater” itself is actually vitreous, a gelatinous-like substance in the eye. Over time, the vitreous can thin out, shrink, and break away from the retina into stringy fragments. These fragments explain why floaters appear as various shapes. Common floaters look like strings, dots, spots, rings and even cobwebs.

Are Floaters a Serious Problem?

Many people develop them as a part of the natural aging process. In addition, they can appear due to stress or injury. However, in some instances, they may be a symptom of much more serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment or hemorrhaging. Be sure to visit your eye doctor right away if you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters you have, if you start to see flashes of light, or if you notice dark areas in your peripheral vision.

Are Floaters Permanent?

Depending on the root cause, many will get smaller and eventually go away on their own or at least settle out of the field of vision. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In cases where it does not disappear, people often adapt to “seeing” the floater and it no longer poses a serious problem. In extreme cases, where vision is impaired, surgical options are available.

The first step in evaluating your floaters is to make an appointment with Family Vision Development Center in Aurora. Our highly-trained staff will perform a thorough eye exam and take time to answer any questions you may have about your eye issues. Call us at 630-862-2020 to schedule an appointment or use our convenient online appointment request form.

 

Additional information hereherehere and here

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craft ideas

Kids Too Old For Finger Painting?  Awesome Craft Ideas for PreTeens

Wasn’t it so nice when the kids were little and you could hand them some craft paint and an empty tissue box and they would amuse themselves for hours.  PreTeens are a much harder group to please!

Of course, you could hand your kid their iPad and let them spend the day shooting things or popping bubbles or whatever other app they may have loaded.  And, realistically, this is an easy way out if you want to entertain your 12yr old for the afternoon.

How about some other great ideas that will grow their brain and exercise their eyes?  Here are 2 great craft activities that will engage your 11yr old for hours:

Project 1:  Yardstick Launcher Craft

Hurl lightweight balls, toys, and other objects toward a target across the room with the stomp of a foot. By Rachelle Doorley, TinkerLab

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS CRAFT:

– Clean metal can (like a coffee can)

– Scrapbook(thick) paper

– Tape

– Yardstick

– Acrylic paint and paintbrush

– Hot glue

– 4 plastic cups

– Rubber band

– Ping-pong balls or other small objects

WHAT TO DO
  1. Cover the can with scrapbook paper and secure with tape. Paint the yardstick; let dry.
  2. Use hot glue to attach the plastic party cups to one end of the yardstick (an adult’s job). Secure the can to the middle of the yardstick with a rubber band.
  3. Place ping-pong balls or other small objects in the cups, then stomp or press down firmly on the free end of the yardstick to launch the projectiles across the room.
HOW DOES IT WORK?

A lever is a simple machine made from a rigid beam (the yardstick) and a fulcrum (the can). When your child applies downward force to one side, it elicits an opposite reaction, sending the unattached load (the ping-pong balls) flying. You can change the amount of effort it takes to move those balls: The closer the can is to the cups, the less work it takes to move the projectiles.

Psst! Like this craft activity? Check out Doorley’s book TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors.

While your child was making this project, did you notice them getting very close to the objects while they were painting?  This could be a sign of vision issues – give Family Vision Development Center a call at 630-862-2020 to ask any questions you may have

Project 2:  How To Make A No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag Craft

Supplies:

  • Old t-shirt – The thicker the fabric, the sturdier the bag
  • Sharp scissors, preferably fabric scissors
  • Washable marker (optional)

Directions for this craft:

Step 1: Cut the sleeves off

Step 2: Cut the neckline area

Trace the bowl and then cut along the line

Step 3: Determine how deep you want the bag to be

Turn the shirt inside out and trace a line across where you want the bottom of the bag to be. Keep in mind that depending on the fabric used, your tote is likely stretch and become longer when it’s filled with stuff.

Step 4: Cut fringe

Now grab your scissors and cut slits from the bottom of the shirt up to the line marking the bottom of your bag. You’ll want to cut both the front and back layers together because they need to match up for the next step.

Step 5: Tie Fringe

Okay, this is going to sound really complicated, but it’s NOT, promise. Take your first pair of fringe and tie it into a knot, then tie two more pairs. Now if you lift your bag, you’ll see that although the pairs are pulling the bag together, there’s a hole between each pair. This next step will close those holes.

In the photo above you see three sets of fringe that have been tied in knots. What I do next is grab one strand from the middle set (the one with the arrow pointing left) and tie it in a knot with one of the strands on the left set. Then I take the other strand from the middle set (the one with the arrow pointing right) and tie it in a knot with one of the strands on the right set.

Then I take the remaining strand on the right set and tie it to the next set of strands, and so on and so forth until all the strands are tied. Now turn your t-shirt right side out again and voila, your craft is done!

We hope your kids enjoy these projects!

When was the last time your child had an eye exam?  Great vision is important your whole life!  If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our kid-friendly eye doctors at Family Vision Development Center, give us a call at 630-862-2020.

Sources here and here

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vision issues

We Are Open and Here For Your Vision Issues During This Crisis!

Dr. Martin and his staff are providing essential services for those who have eyecare needs/ vision issues during this COVID-19 restricted time.  We understand that, while things like regular checkups may not be urgent, vision issues or immediate problems are not to be put off and can require an appointment.

OFFICE CLEANLINESS

We want you to know that we are cleaning the office and adhering to healthcare recommendations in order to keep you and your family safe while you visit our office.  Our appointment times are changing often so please call us directly if you have a concern or question.  We can then check for opening on our revised calendar so we can schedule you a visit during our open hours.

URGENT VISION ISSUES

If you are experiencing vision issues such a double-vision, “floaters,” blurry vision, or new headaches, these are issues that should not be put off to a later date.  Please call us and we can advise you if you need to be seen by one of our doctors.  Oftentimes, the sooner a condition is treated, the better results the patient will see.

CHILDREN’S VISION ISSUES

Also, for those of you that have children at home, now that you are watching them go thru their daily school work, you may notice some habits which could indicate they are having vision issues.  If you see any of the following, please let us know:

  • Leaning in very close to a paper they are reading
  • Complaints of headaches towards the end of the day
  • Excessive blinking while they are reading
  • They are covering one eye while reading
  • They focus for only a very short time and then walk away or stop reading often

These could all indicate vision issues.  Please contact our office to let us know what signs they are exhibiting so we can further advise you as to the what the problem may be.

Everyone here at Family Vision Development Center hopes that you take the time to enjoy this extra time with family, take the time to slow down a bit, and that you stay healthy & safe!  Please contact us at 630-862-2020 to ask any questions you may have or to schedule an urgent appointment.

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