6 Ways to Protect Your Eyes this Allergy Season

by MikeMeehan 4/24/2017 2:28 PM

When spring arrives, I feel hopeful and happy, uplifted by the colors and weather. That is until… my eyes start to itch and my nose starts to tickle. Yes, despite the daffodils and rising temperatures, spring means allergies for me, and I’m guessing if not for you, someone close to you.  So, as your vision benefits provider, we want to make sure you protect your eyes this allergy season. Here are 6 tips to get you started: Avoid exposureTry to minimize your exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed and wearing sunglasses with as much coverage as possible. Whether at home or in your car, air conditioning, filtering the air, can provide some relief. Use eye dropsThere are many brands, so consult your eye doctor for a recommendation. Allergy eye drops will reduce the histamine in your eye tissues, so this might be a good option to directly help your swollen, watery, red and itchy eyes. You can try over-the-counter for your mild symptoms, but if you don’t see improvement, see your eye doctor for prescription eye drops. Remove contact lensesDuring allergy season, wearing your eyeglasses instead of your contact lenses may help with eye allergies. The surface of your contact lenses can collect allergens. Treat with medicationsAgain, if over-the-counter eye drops aren’t enough, oral medications can relieve your eye allergy symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants, and other options can be prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter. Don’t itch!Although it might provide temporary relief, rubbing your eyes can lead to thinning of the cornea and a risk of eye infections. Also, when you rub your allergy eyes, the itching releases more histamines, worsening the symptoms. When the itching becomes unbearable, grab the eye drops instead.  Try other remediesImmunotherapy, steroids and mast cell stabilizers are examples of other treatments you can discuss with your doctor. At home remedies, like a cold washcloth or compress, cucumber slices or tea bags placed on your eyelids can be soothing. Changing your clothes when you get home and showering before bedtime are some other strategies. If you do struggle with the seasonal allergies of spring, we hope you still get to enjoy the positive offerings of the season.

Hello Halos: Why Some Christmas Lights Seem to Glow

by MikeMeehan 12/22/2016 9:31 AM

If you’re anything like my family, you’ll hop into a car this holiday season, and cruise the neighborhood to view Christmas lights. Who knows? Maybe a house will have decked its walls with a synchronized display to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter.” Or maybe it’s not as elaborate. In either case, Christmas lights emit some of the magic of the holidays. Sometimes, usually on an older string of lights — those fat nine-watt incandescent bulbs — you’ll see a halo around the light. What causes that halo? Two Types of “Fractions” that Produce Halos To best understand the halo effect, let’s start with two types of “fractions”: refraction and diffraction. Both definitions involve light traveling through matter. Refraction In refraction, light passes through matter and is knocked off course, so it travels indirectly from Point A to Point B. This is what happens with 22-degree halos, which are the most common halos to form around the sun or moon. The light from the sun encounters ice crystals in the air, and the light is knocked off course, forming a halo around the sun or moon. Diffraction With diffraction, the light passes through a narrow aperture and spreads out. Imagine a camera. The camera has an aperture, which determines how much light will enter into the lens. If more light tries to come in than the lens allows, the light will bend around the edges. When light bends around the edges, it can cause interference between the light waves, producing a halo effect. But this doesn’t just happen with cameras. This can happen with our eyes too. Our pupils determine how much light comes in. If it’s dark, they dilate, and if it’s light, they shrink. After the light enters the pupil, it interacts with the lens: a round and flat part of the eye right behind the pupil. Seeing the Lights When we look at Christmas lights, our eyes take in a certain amount of light, and the rest bends around the edges of our pupils. Unfortunately, the halo effect in Christmas lights is becoming a thing of the past. LED lights are starting to replace the old two-inch bulbs. These are more energy efficient, so they don’t put out as much light. Light probably won’t bend as much around the edges of your pupils, thus diminishing the chance of the halo. As you look at lights this holiday, and as you remember the reason for the season, remember that your eyes let you see the world. So you’ll want to take good care of them. One simple way is by scheduling regular checkups with your optometrist. This holiday, celebrate friends and family, and be thankful for your eyes!  

Halloween Strobe Lights — Are They a Horror on the Eyes?

by MikeMeehan 10/27/2016 3:53 PM

What’s a haunted house without strobe lights? You know the scenario. You enter a room thick with smog from a fog machine. Your only source of light is a strobe. Everything looks like it’s in stop motion. A bulky man ahead of you — you can’t make out any of his features, just that he’s coming toward you — he lifts a detoothed chainsaw above his head and lets it growl. Nothing to fear, you tell yourself. It’s detoothed. But what if it isn’t? Now you feel a scream forming in your chest. The stop-motion feel created by a strobe light can really enhance the mood of a haunted house. But what kind of effect does it have on the eyes? Not much, actually. Although two issues may arise. Two Ways Strobe Lights Can Take a Toll Rumors that strobe lights cause astigmatism are nothing more than that: rumors. But strobe lights can cause eye fatigue or, if the strobe light is powerful enough, a corneal surface burn. Eye fatigue Strobe lights can cause eye fatigue, because they distort the way the brain perceives motion. Think of it like a movie. A movie consists of frames, hundreds of thousands of them, moving in quick succession (24 frames per second). The mind can’t take in each frame individually, so it perceives all the frames together as being in motion. A strobe light, however, flashes light at a much slower rate. So it tricks the mind into seeing the world as “individual frames.” While this trickery isn’t necessarily bad for the eyes, it can cause you to focus more intensely, which can strain your eyes. If you’re experiencing eye fatigue, your eyes might: Ache Feel dry Have difficulty focusing Be sensitive to light But eye fatigue, other than being an annoyance, is rarely a serious condition. If you experience it, close your eyes for a few minutes. You might consider covering them with your palms. Corneal Surface Burn Corneal surface burn is more serious than eye fatigue. If the strobe light is more than 150 watts, the amount of lumens it puts out may be enough to damage your eye if you stare at it directly for a long period. Corneal surface burn is like a sunburn on the surface of the eye. When light is too strong or lasts for too long, it heats the colored part of the eye. That part of the eye absorbs the light — that’s why you see a bright spot when you look away — and the eye radiates the heat, which can burn it. Usually, corneal surface burn heals, but it might take a few days. Of course, it’s highly unlikely you’ll stare at the strobe lights directly, much less long enough to cause damage, what with being shuffled through a haunted house. Regardless, a basic rule of thumb is this: If the strobe light hurts your eyes, don’t stare at it. This Halloween, don’t let strobe lights scare you away from some haunted house fun. Just make sure your eyes feel comfortable. After all, some things you can’t unsee.

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