#ikickbutts — Stand Against the Harmful Effects of Smoking on Teeth and Eyes

by MikeMeehan 3/15/2017 11:02 AM

Set cups in a schoolyard fence. Host an online training course. Chalk statistics onto a sidewalk. These are some of the activities suggested for National Kick Butts Day. The day seeks to empower youth to stand against tobacco use by participating in activism at their high school or college. In addition to the activism of this day, we’d like to draw attention to what might not be as common knowledge: the harmful effects tobacco and smoking have on the mouth and eyes. 7 Ways Tobacco Products Can Hurt the Mouth Tobacco products can hurt your mouth in a handful of ways. They can lead to: Bad breath. Nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva, and a dry mouth can cause bad breath. Yellowed teeth. The two main culprits that yellow teeth in tobacco products are nicotine and tar. Even though nicotine is colorless, it turns yellow when exposed to oxygen. Gum disease. Nicotine deprives the gums of nutrients and oxygen, which can cause gums to recede. In some cases, tobacco users also experience bleeding or swollen gums. But that’s not it. According to the American Dental Association, the impact of tobacco products on your mouth also includes: Stained tongue Dulled sense of taste and smell Slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery Difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems Tobacco products can also lead to oral cancer. Why Oral Cancer Screening Is Important The Delta Dental Plans Association has released studies showing smokers are six times as likely to develop oral cancer as nonsmokers. Delta Dental follows the recommendations of The American Cancer Society — that your dentist or primary care doctor check your mouth and throat for oral cancer as part of a routine checkup. The process for screening is simple. Your dentist looks in your mouth for early signs of cancer. Tell your dentist about any swelling, sores, or discoloring around your mouth, lips, or throat. Screening is important for the following reasons: Close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation. According to the foundation, oral cancer will cause close to 10,000 deaths in the U.S. On average, only 60 percent of those with the disease will live more than five years after being diagnosed, according to the Delta Dental Plans Association. By quitting tobacco use, smokers can cut their risk in half in just five years. After 10 years, former smokers have the same risk as people who never used tobacco. 6 Ways Tobacco Products Can Harm the Eyes Not only do tobacco products affect teeth, they can affect eyesight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two of the greatest threats are cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, which affects your ability to focus. According to the New York State Department of Health, heavy smokers (15 cigarettes a day or more) have up to three times the risk of cataract as nonsmokers. Age-related macular degeneration (or AMD). AMD causes loss in the center of field of vision. Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD than nonsmokers, according to the New York State Department of Health. Smoking also increases the risk for: Glaucoma Diabetic retinopathy Uveitis (an inflammation of the part of the eye called the uvea) Dry eye syndrome (a condition in which a person either doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears that evaporate too quickly) Never Too Late to Quit Nobody wants a discolored smile or to see the world through blurry lenses. If you are using tobacco, it’s not too late to quit today. By quitting, you can prevent gum disease and/or improve the condition of your gums, as well as lower your chances of eye disease. Tomorrow is National Kick Butts Day. Many high schools, college campuses and other organizations around the nation will participate. You can participate by using the hashtag #ikickbutts.  

How to Save Your Vision with the Right Eye Care Routine

by MikeMeehan 3/9/2017 9:36 AM

Did you know your eyes can detect about 10 million unique colors? Or that your eyeballs stay the same size from birth to death? Or that they’re composed of more than 2 million working parts? As fascinating as they are, your eyes can sometimes be compromised. Of course, some things are outside of your control: As you get older, parts of your body begin to wear down. Family history or genetics might also play a role. When it comes to saving your vision, though, you have options and opportunities to improve your outlook. 2 Common Eye Diseases and 3 Simple Ways to Save Your Vision from Them First, let’s consider some of the most common vision ailments - cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. More than 200,000 cases are reported for each in the U.S. each year. 1. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which affects your ability to focus. 2. Age-related macular degeneration is brought on by age, and mostly affects those who are 60 or older. It causes loss in the center of field of vision. Two types include dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. With dry, the center of the retina deteriorates. With wet, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina. A few ways to save your vision include: 1. Wear UV-protection glasses. You can lessen your chances of cataracts by wearing glasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light. Not only does this apply to UV light from the sun, but also to blue light from computer screens and other electronic devices. 2. Eat a healthy diet. Diets containing vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help prevent age-related macular degeneration. 3. Don’t smoke. Smoking can increase chances of both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. You’ll also want to schedule a regular comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Why Regular Eye Exams Are Important During a regular eye exam, your eye doctor checks for common eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Whereas cataracts can be treated, age-related macular degeneration can’t be cured, though treatment can help. The earlier it can be detected, the better. But your eye doctor does more than just detect for those two diseases. Some of the benefits of regular eye exams include: 1. Your eye doctor can make sure everything’s in working order. Your eye doctor might look at how your eyes work together, how well you can make out objects near or far from you and how well your eyes can focus. 2. Your doctor can monitor eye changes. A once-a-year visit can detect small changes in your eyes. This can prevent eye problems before they become major issues. 3. Your doctor can also monitor your children’s eyes. Your children may not be aware what 20/20 vision looks like. Consequently, they might not report any issues with seeing. Your eye doctor can diagnose their vision problems before those problems begin to interfere with important aspects of their life, like school performance. Take Control of Your Vision Today March is National Save Your Vision Month, a designation from the American Optometric Association. This year, the organization is promoting awareness around digital eye strain and the importance of receiving regular, comprehensive eye exams from a doctor of optometry. Your eyes are a window to the world, and your vision is precious. By practicing a good eye care routine and scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor once a year, you can expect to maintain your good vision!

Technology in a Bad Light: The Risks of Digital Eye Strain

by MikeMeehan 3/3/2017 9:14 AM

Most of us can’t imagine a day without technology. Some of us may sit in front of a computer for eight hours at work. Then we might come home and turn on the TV. Throughout the day, perhaps we keep in touch on our smartphone with our significant other. And later, we may see what our friends are up to using our tablet to access our Facebook newsfeed. Technology can connect us. But when we use it, we spend an awful lot of time staring at a digital surface, which poses a risk of digital eye strain. Are You Suffering from Digital Eye Strain? Digital eye strain occurs when we spend too much time staring at a digital surface like a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV. Due to the ubiquity of these items, it’s safe to say we’re all at risk. If you or your child are experiencing digital eye strain, you might suffer from the following: Headaches Eye dryness Eye fatigue Blurry vision Difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance Staring at screens for a prolonged period of time can wear down the retina, which can also lead to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Your retina wears down because your eyes have to exert themselves to see an electronic device clearly. Over an extended period of time, the excessive focusing causes your eyes to become fatigued. Unfortunately, many of us are either unaware or not doing anything about it. A recent nationwide survey from The Vision Council showed 68.5 percent of Americans have not discussed how often they use digital devices with their eyecare provider, and 73.5 percent were unaware of eyewear that could protect their eyes from them. The survey also found 87 percent use digital devices more than two hours per day. More than 50 percent regularly use two digital devices simultaneously. Is Technology Giving You the "Blues"? Digital eye strain occurs because of the light emitted from digital devices. Most devices — including but not limited to computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs and artificial lighting — have light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which radiate blue wavelength light. Blue wavelength light is a high-energy light visible to the naked eye. Let’s consider how light travels. Light wavelengths look like this: Notice, the red-light wavelength is significantly longer than the blue-light wavelength. The red-light wavelength is lower energy. Eventually, the wavelengths become so long we can’t see them with our naked eye. This is the realm of infrared light. If the wavelengths become so short we can’t see them, this is ultraviolet (UV) light. You probably already know the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn. They can also cause corneal surface burns, or sunburns on the eye. What’s worse, ultraviolet light is a high energy wavelength, so our eyes aren’t good at protecting against it. The Reason Your Children Are at Greater Risk Digital devices can be great for children. They can be fun and educational.  But you’ll want to monitor your children’s use, as digital devices can pose a risk for eye strain. Depending on your children’s ages, digital devices can hurt the development of their eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a child’s eyes don’t fully develop until about age seven. But even if your children are older than seven, they might not have the same awareness you do of digital interfaces. Or, worse, they might ignore it altogether, and not put the devices away even if they start experiencing symptoms of eye strain. Six Steps that Will Help You Prevent Digital Eye Strain To prevent digital eye strain, you can take the following six steps: Keep your distance. When using technology, don’t press your face right up against the screen. If you’re watching TV, stay at least 20 feet away. Take frequent breaks. Every 20 minutes, take a break from the digital screen for at least 20 seconds. Use one device at a time. As tempting as it might be, don’t play on your phone and watch TV at the same time. Get glasses with blue-light filtering lenses. Sixty-seven percent of people in their 30s spend five or more hours each day on digital devices, according to Vision Monday, a leading news and news-analysis source for the ophthalmic industry. If working with digital screens is a prerequisite for you, consider purchasing glasses with blue-light filtering lenses. This can shield your eyes from harmful wavelengths. Schedule regular eye exams. Schedule routine eye exams every one to two years for you and your children. Unplug. In a lot of ways, you set your children’s habits for them. If you spend eight hours in front of a computer, only to come home and watch TV, you’re children are probably going to emulate your lifestyle. Schedule time as a family to unplug and do something that doesn’t involve technology. Don’t let digital eye strain affect you or your children’s health. By practicing these six steps, you can keep 20/20 vision for the future!  

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