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!  

The Eyelash of the Beholder: How Lashes Play a Vital Role for Your Eyes

by MikeMeehan 2/16/2017 12:58 PM

Did you know your eyelashes have glands? Or that you might have mites on your eyelashes? Some interesting facts about eyelashes include: ·       Eyelashes fall out daily. Sometimes, as many as five drop in one day. ·       You have more eyelashes on the upper lid than on the lower. The upper lid usually contains about 200, and the lower about 100. ·       Eyelashes vary in length, with the longest lashes at the middle of the upper lid. ·       The eyelash has two sets of glands: oil glands and sweat glands. The oil glands are named Glands of Zeis (after ophthalmologist Eduard Zeis), and the sweat glands the Glands of Moll (after oculist Jacob Anton Moll). The glands keep the follicles unclogged and the lashes bacteria-free. ·       For many people, tiny mites named Demodex live at the base of your eyelashes. They come out during sleep to eat dirt, debris and cells shed by lashes. In many instances, this is beneficial, as it keeps follicles from getting clogged, although too many Demodex can become problematic, causing eyelashes to fall out. Who would have thought eyelashes could be so interesting? But eyelashes are more than just interesting. They play important roles in eye health. Love at First Sight: Some of the Beautiful Purposes of Eyelashes Eyelashes can enhance the eyes. Some people claim the eye is the first feature we fall in love with, so eyelashes can make you seem more beautiful to others. But they play more than just a beauty role. One of their purposes is to minimize airflow over the eyeball, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Prolonged airflow on the eyes can dry them out. Also, because the eyeball is exposed, eyelashes can keep out dirt, sweat and debris. This can prevent viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. Five Simple Ways You Can Keep Your Eyelashes Healthy For your eyelashes to serve their greatest purpose, make sure you take good care of them. To do so, you can start in a few ways: 1)     Thoroughly remove eye makeup each night. If you don’t, you risk too many Demodex (those eyelash mites) in your eyelashes. 2)     Replace eye makeup more often than other kinds of makeup. Mascaras, along with other liquid or creamy products, are wet, dark and damp. That may seem obvious. What may not be as obvious is wet, dark and damp products are more prone to cause infection. Bacteria can thrive in them, especially if the products are exposed to air. As a result, most manufacturers recommend replacing mascara every two to four months, and keeping other eye makeups no longer than three months. 3)     Don’t share your cosmetics or cosmetic eye tools. You are more likely to develop an eye infection by sharing cosmetics or cosmetic eye tools. 4)     Avoid plucking. Eyelashes generally grow at a slower pace than most other hair on your body. If you pluck too many eyelashes out, you run a greater risk of dirt, sweat and debris getting into the eyes. 5)     Practice basic wellness. By practicing basic wellness techniques, like proper hand washing and regular showering, you can prevent infections like styes. Styes are red, painful lumps near the base of your eyelid.  Not only can lashes accentuate your eyes and help you look more beautiful, they play an important role protecting your eyes. As you practice proper eye care, don’t forget your lashes!

How to Enjoy Football without Hurting Your Smile

by MikeMeehan 2/2/2017 1:01 PM

Are you ready for some football? The big game is this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Atlanta Falcons. If you’re at all like us, you might wonder why football players smear eye black (a glob of grease) under their eyes (to reduce the glare of stadium lights, which helps them see an airborne ball better). Actually, we’ll probably be doing what you’re doing: gathering with friends to scarf down healthy snacks, like stuffed mushrooms and guacamole nachos. Heads up: If you’re looking to make something new and aren’t already following us on Facebook, you can find plenty of healthy recipes there, which we post every Wednesday. Oh, and during the big game, some of the commercials will be pretty great, too. Football can be fun to watch, and it can also be fun to play. While the sport comes with many rewards, it can, unfortunately, be dangerous to your eyes and teeth. Are the Risks of Football Worth the Rewards? Some of the rewards of football include: 1.     It improves fitness. Football improves aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. It combines slow and fast movements with sprinting, which gets the heart pumping at different paces. This increases overall fitness. It can also increase bone and muscle strength. 2.     It can decrease stress. When you play football, dopamine is released in your brain. This can make you happier and more relaxed. 3.     It can help you sleep better. This is also due to dopamine in the brain. 4.     You can learn teamwork skills. You play football on a team. To get the ball down the field, you have to execute a play, which requires everyone to cooperate. 5.     You can make quick decisions. Because football is such a fast-paced sport, you have to sharpen your reflexes. 6.     It can build confidence. After seeing the gains from the game, football can encourage you to pursue and achieve other goals. However, football is one of the more dangerous sports when it comes to teeth and eye safety. It is a game of many collisions — from the offense trying to block the defense to a defender tackling a receiver. Any of these, especially if a collision ends up being head-on, can cause damage to teeth and eyes. Four Reasons Football Injuries Can Be Devastating Losing teeth or sustaining eye injuries can have serious consequences. Here’s why: 1.     Missing teeth can make it harder to chew foods. Teeth break down food for proper digestion. Better chewing can better nourish your body, as chewing produces more saliva. Saliva can prevent plaque from building up around teeth and can also aid in the digestion process. 2.     Missing teeth can make it harder to speak. Teeth aid in speech. If you’re missing teeth, your tongue might readjust, which can affect your speaking skills. 3.     Injuries to the eye can affect your vision. This may seem like an obvious thing to write, but consider it for a moment. Your eyes are a window to the world. With impaired sight, it could feel like your window has some annoying smudges. 4.     Damage to teeth and eyes can affect your appearance. When you smile, the first feature many people notice is your teeth. Teeth support the lips and face. Some people have reported their noses and upper lips sagging after losing their two front teeth. Likewise, some people claim eyes are the first feature we fall in love with. Damage to either could rob you of your hard-earned confidence. Three Pieces You Need to Protect Your Eyes and Teeth When you play the sport, yes, you want to play for the love of the game. But protecting your eyes and teeth should be No. 1. It’s ok, though. You have a few options: 1.     Always wear a football helmet. A football helmet has a face mask, which can protect both your eyes and teeth. 2.     Wear sports goggles. Sports goggles can offer added protection to the eyes where the cracks in the wire mesh of a face mask might not. 3.     Wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard can protect your teeth, tongue, lips, cheeks, and jaw. Football, like any other sport, does come with its enjoyable moments. But it can be dangerous. Get out, and enjoy the game. Just make sure to protect your eyes and teeth when you do!

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