Screen Time and Children

Screen time is the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays including computers, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. In our modern and technology-focused world children are spending time on digital displays for educational and recreational purposes. Children who spend several hours on digital devices are at risk of developing vision-related problems.

Average Time Children Spend On Digital Devices

According to the Vision Council, 72% of American parents report their children regularly spend more than two hours on screens per day. It is likely that children spend significantly more time on screens than their parents think. Common Sense Media reports that children under age eight spend more than two hours a day with screen media. For 8 to 10-year-olds screen time triples to six hours per day. Kids in middle school and high school spend up to nine hours per day looking at digital displays.

Risks of Screen Time

Too much screen time can be dangerous for anyone’s eyes, children included. Screens emit a broad spectrum of visible light. While most of these light rays are harmless, blue light is a high-energy visible light that can cause damage to your eyes. Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy causing harm to the retina over time. Overexposure to blue light can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress. Symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue.

Unhealthy Posture

Your body naturally slouches inwards when on digital devices. Your back and shoulders round, your head tilts back, and your chin justs forward. This reaction to digital devices is called “turtling” and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.

How To Protect Your Child’s Eyes

It is clear digital devices will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore it is essential to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your children’s eyes from digital screens. One way you can do this is by limiting screen time for your children while at home. You can also apply blue light filters or download blue light filtering apps to all digital devices. If your child wears prescription glasses, ask us about add blue light blocking to their lenses during your next appointment.

Nighttime Use

The largest source of blue light is our sun, which tells our brain when to be awake or sleep. The high use of digital devices emitting blue light may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) by miscommunicating the time of day and if you should be awake or asleep. Stop digital device time two hours before usual bedtime to ensure your child’s sleep schedule affected by blue light.

Do you have more questions about screen time and blue light? Stop by our office or give our office a call and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Are online eye tests any good?

Have you considered getting online eye tests? The idea of being able to get an eyeglass prescription and buy glasses without a trip to the eye doctor may sound appealing. Before ditching the traditional eye exams, there are a few things you need to know!

Online Eye Tests

The most important thing to know about online eye tests is they do not evaluate the health of your eyes. Even if they are called “online eye exams,” these exams only measure your visual acuity and refractive error. Some online eye tests can check for contrast sensitivity and color blindness. However, none of this can tell the health of your eyes.

The only way to know the complete health of your eyes is through eye exams with your doctor. During an eye exam, your doctor can detect vision-threatening conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. Early detection of these conditions can prevent vision loss and blindness.

Know The Risks:

  • Online eye exams cannot detect eye diseases
  • Improper testing can occur due to error or misreading instructions
  • Higher chance of getting incorrect prescription due to self-administered the eye test
  • If you think the prescription is incorrect, your only option is to pay again and retake the test
  • An eyecare professional is not present to answer questions or concerns

Validation of Online Eye Tests

The results of online eye tests have not been guaranteed to be accurate measures of your prescription. Due to this being relatively new technology, there have not been enough studies to determine the reliability and validity of online eye tests.

Additionally, many online eye tests say their technology is suitable only for people between the ages 18 and 40 who are in good health. The limitations of the eye test raise concerns to the overall validity of the test. For these reasons, we do not recommend them as your sole option for your receiving your prescription.

The best way to ensure your eyes are healthy, you receive the correct prescription, and get answers to all your questions is through face-to-face eye exams with your eye doctor. Our staff of trained eyecare professionals will help you through every step of the process. Our office is here to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Eye Safety In The Home

Have you thought about eye safety in your home? Over 2.4 million eye injuries each year in the United States. Experts say wearing safety glasses and taking a few common-sense precautions can prevent or reduce the severity of eye injuries.

Common causes of eye injury in the home:

  • Household cleaners and chemicals
    Tip: Keep out of reach of children, high shelves in cupboards or childproof cupboards.
  • Toys and games (hard or sharp edges)
    Tip: Always check the age recommendation to ensure toys are appropriate for your child.
  • Eye makeup and applicators
    Tip: Throw out old or damaged products to avoid potential eye hazards.
  • Lawn, garden, and hand tools
    Tip: Wear protective eyewear when completing house or yard work.
  • Champagne Corks
    Tip: Never face the cork towards anyone’s face, including your own.
  • Fireworks
    Tip: Attend a professional firework show, avoid the risks associated with at home fireworks.

 

What to do in case of eye injury

If you or your child has an eye injury contact your eye doctor immediately. If it is after regular work hours, try an emergency contact number or call 911. It is always better to be over cautious when it comes to your eyes.

The next steps after your phone call vary greatly depending on the eye injury. Typically, we either recommend you come to our office or go to the emergency room. Depending on the situation your eye doctor may also ask you to flush your eye, remove your contact lenses, or cover your eye.

When in doubt treat all eye injuries as potential emergencies. You only have one pair of eyes, and we want to ensure they are taken care of.

What to look for in safety glasses

Safety glasses should be worn when doing any house repairs/renovations, yard work, or sports activities. This is the best way to protect your eyes from potential harm. When looking for safety glasses, it is important to have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses and safety rated frame.

If you have additional questions about eye safety in the home, ask our staff. We want to help you keep your eyes safe and healthy!

Why Your Children Should be Wearing Sunglasses

As you may know, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to your skin, but how often do you think about the damage these rays can cause to your eyes? What about your child’s eyes? At a young age, children’s eyes are still developing, and with the substantial time they spend outdoors, it is important to purchase sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.

What Are UV Rays?

UV rays or ultraviolet radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation or energy. These rays are emitted from the sun as well as a few man-made sources, like tanning beds. A key factor in what makes ultraviolet rays so dangerous is our inability to see them. Ultraviolet rays fall outside the range of visible light for the human eye. To read more about UV rays, click here.

Your Exposure to UV Rays

Eye Development

The lens inside a child’s eye is still developing and is not as capable of filtering high energy rays similar to eye lenses in adults. This inability to filter and fully protect their eyes causes children to have a higher risk of damage from UV rays. Shielding your infant’s or child’s eyes from UV rays as early as possible will help prevent overexposure to UV radiation throughout their lifetime. For younger children and infants, a sun hat provides additional protection to their skin and eyes throughout the day as the sun shifts and in case they remove their sunglasses.

Environment

Exposure to UV radiation increases at high altitudes, tropical locations, and in reflective environments. Consider the level of risk in your environment and if protective eyewear should be worn. Here are a few environment aspects and how they could affect your exposure to harmful UV rays.

  • Altitude: At higher altitudes, the earth’s atmosphere is thinner and unable to provide the same protection from UV rays.
  • Location: As you move closer to the earth’s equator, the level of UV rays increase. If you and your family are visiting a tropical location near the earth’s equator, always wear 100% UV blocking eyewear when outdoors.
  • Highly reflective services: Areas with highly reflective services like pools, lakes, oceans, and snow reflect UV rays. Snow can reflect up to 80% of UV rays creating a higher risk of UV damage to your eyes.
  • Clouds: Keep in mind clouds do not block UV radiation. UV exposure can be high on cloudy days.

Time of Day

  • Time of day: UV levels are higher between 10 am to 2 pm when the sun is at its peak.
  • Setting: Highly reflective surfaces like sand, water, and snow provide a much higher risk of eye damage due to UV radiation.

Children’s Eyewear

We understand convincing your child to wear sunglasses can be a challenge. Use these pointers when talking with your kids about sunglasses! Don’t forget, you know your children better than anyone else, so some of these tips may not work for them.

  • Match the current trends. If your child loves a certain color, pattern, or shape, purchase sunglasses to match their unique style.
  • TV shows, young celebrities, and brands like Disney create sunglass lines to appeal specifically to children. That’s right, children notice and prefer brand named items just like teens and adults.
  • Keep frame in the family. If the child has an adult or sibling they look up to and admire, purchase your child similar sunglasses to what the adult or sibling owns. This will appeal to the child’s desire to look more like their older sibling or parent!
  • Let them do the shopping. Take children shopping specifically to pick out their very own special pair of sunglasses. The more they like their sunglasses, the more likely they are to wear them, and the better protected their eyes will be from harmful UV radiation from the sun.

Flashes, Floaters, and Spots: What’s in my Vision?

Have you noticed tiny shadows cast upon objects you are looking at? Do you see small spots in your vision when looking at a clear or overcast sky? You may be seeing floaters and spots in your field of vision.

What is the spot in my vision?

It is completely normal to see spots or floaters in your vision. As you age the gel-like consistency in your eyes begins to dissolve creating floaters in the watery center of your eye. While you cannot see the particle floating in your eye, a shadow of these particles can be seen reflected in the objects you are viewing.

Do I need treatment for my floaters?

No, most of the time treatment is not required for floaters in the eye. The floaters and spots are harmless, and most will fade over time. If your vision is inhibited by large floaters, give our office a call to discuss options available to reduce these symptoms.

Why is there a flash in my vision?

When light enters your eye it sends a message to the retina, the retina then produces an electrical impulse which is sent to the brain. The brain interprets this impulse as an image. If the retina is tugged, torn, or detached from the back of the eye it is common to see a flicker of light. The flashes or flickers of light can be temporary or continue indefinitely depending on the severity of the retinal issue.

Is this ever a medical emergency?

Seeing a few new floaters is not an emergency, however, if you suddenly see a shower of floaters or spots this may be cause for concern. The sudden appearance of flashes of light could mean that damage is occurring to your retina. If any of these symptoms suddenly appear, call our office immediately to discuss with your eye doctor.

Conditions associated with eye floaters and flashes:

  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Inflammation of the interior of the eye
  • Nearsightedness
  • Cataract surgery
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infections

Eye Exams 101

Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to early detection of eye-related diseases to keep you seeing your best every day. Adults should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years. Children should have an eye exam as early as 6 months, before they start school, and then every 1-2 years. If you or your family need a comprehensive eye exam, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

We often get questions about what an eye exam is like, so we’ve created an overview of a typical eye exam in our office.

Eye Exam Basics

What does an eye exam test for? Eye exams test your visual acuity and the overall health of your eye.

Why is an eye exam important? Eye exams check for early signs of serious eye and health problems; some of which may not present with any symptoms.

Who gives an eye exam? Your eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor.

Terms to know:

  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts but commonly specialize in treating medical conditions of the eye and performing eye surgery
  • Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors who prescribe glasses, contacts, vision therapy, and medication to treat eye diseases. Optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform eye related surgery.
  • Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an eye care professional who fits, adjusts, and repairs your eyeglasses. They can also help patients learn to apply, remove, and care for contact lenses.

What to prepare for your appointment?

Before your comprehensive eye exam, there are several materials you can prepare. First, create a list of all your prescription and non-prescription medications you take along with the dosage. This will help your eye doctor determine any vision risks you may have. Bring your most recent pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, if you have them. Don’t forget to have a copy of your vision insurance card and other medical insurance cards with you. To learn more about the insurance providers our office accepts and other payment options, please call our office directly. Finally, bring a list of questions or concerns you may have about your eyesight to discuss with your eye doctor.

What to expect during your appointment?

Prepare for your eye exam to take an hour or more depending on the number of tests your eye doctor needs to evaluate your vision and eye health. A typical comprehensive exam is a series of visual tests to inform your eye doctor about your vision.

These tests help determine:

  • Sharpness of near and distance vision
  • Color blindness
  • Lazy eye
  • Ability to follow moving object and/or move between two separate fixed objects
  • Depth perception
  • Determine your eyeglass prescription
  • Structures of the eye
  • Glaucoma test
  • Eye drop test to look inside your eyes
  • Blind spots

What to do after the exam?

Following your exam, you will have the opportunity to explore the various frames and lenses found in our optical space. An optician will be available to assist you in selecting a pair of eyewear that best fits your lifestyle needs. If you choose to wear contact lenses, you will need to schedule a contact lens fitting appointment.

Once your new eyewear is ready to be picked-up, an optician will adjust your frame to fit you best and make it comfortable for everyday wear.

Finally, schedule your follow-up appointment for the next year. Regular comprehensive eye exams are essential in maintaining healthy vision. If you ever experience any sudden vision changes or eye injuries be sure to contact our office.

Eye Color & Genetics

Ever wonder why your eyes are blue, green, brown, or somewhere in between? The colored part of your eye, the Iris, contains pigmentation which determines our eye color. Your parents pass on chromosomes which combine to customize your eye color.

How eye color develops

Eye color is not as simple as other genetic traits. Three different genes contribute to your eye color. Due to dominant gene types, darker colors like brown overpower lighter colors like blue and green. Colors such as gray, hazel, and multiple combinations are not as common and are not yet completely understood.

Most babies are born with blue eyes, but did you know their eyes can darken for three years? Melanin is a pigment not present at birth, which develops with age and causes eyes to darken. The more melanin someone has, the darker their eyes will be.

Facts About Common Eye Colors:

  • Brown: Most common eye color worldwide. This varies between dark brown, light brown, and honey brown eyes.
  • Blue: People with blue eyes have less melanin in their eyes than any other color. Blue eyes are thought to come from a genetic mutation of one individual.
  • Green: Thought to be the most attractive and one of the rarest eye colors.
  • Hazel: The hue of hazel eyes changes based on what you are wearing and the type of lighting you are in. Hazel eyes host a variety of colors.

Changes in eye color

When your pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris of your eye compress or spread apart causing the color of your eyes to change. Your pupils change size for a variety of reasons including changes in light and the distance of the object you are focusing on. Emotions can also change the pupil size and iris color.

Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition in which a person’s eyes are different colors, caused by one eye having more melanin than the other. Typically, present at birth and is not considered an eye disease as it does not commonly cause vision problems.

Enhancing your eye color

  • Wear eyeglass frames to compliment your eye color and skin tone.

Example: Determine if you are “warm” or “cool” toned skin and eye color then match your frames with a complementary color.

  • Use eye makeup to bring out the color of your eyes.

Example: Pinks, purples, and silvers bring out the warmth in brown eyes.

  • Wear clothing which compliments or contrasts your eye color.

Example: Orange, red, and gold highlight the natural hue of blue eyes.

  • Choose hairstyles and colors to accentuate your eyes.

Example: Bangs and layers which frame the face draw more attention to your eyes.

  • Colored contact lenses give you the opportunity to try out a new look.

Combating Dry Eye Syndrome

Do you experience itchy, burning, or dry eyes? You may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision, when there is insufficient moisture on the surface of the eye it can cause discomfort. Let’s looks at some common causes of dry eye syndrome, symptoms, and risk factors.

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

Tears keep the eyes surfaces moist and wash away dust, debris, and other microorganisms. Without constant, adequate moisture, dry eye will occur. Not enough oil in the tears causes them to evaporate too quickly, and without sufficient water production, eyes cannot maintain proper moisture.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

  • Scratchy or gritty feeling
  • Red eyes
  • Blurriness
  • Irritation from windy conditions
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Problems with contacts
  • Excessive tearing
  • Heavy eyes
  • Sore eyes

Contact lenses and dry eyes

One of the most common complaints from contact lens wearers is their contacts make their eyes feel dry. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing your contacts or immediately after removing your contacts, talk with your eye doctor, as it is irregular to feel discomfort.

If discomfort occurs, it is possible you are using the incorrect solution with your contact lenses; not all solutions are made equally. Your eye doctor may also recommend you use eye drops to help temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms.

Another means to relieve symptoms is to change your contact lens type to a more breathable or moisture-focused lens, which is specially made to help retain moisture. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor the option to switch from reusable contact lenses to single-use lenses. Single-use lenses will help prevent your lens from drying out and work to maintain moisture in your eyes.

Factors that Increase Risk of Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms stem from multiple risk factors, including health conditions, environments, and eyewear choice. If you are suffering from dry eye try some of the tips below to help reduce your symptoms.  

  • Computer use. Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for more evaporated tears. When working on a computer for an extended period of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.
  • Contact lens. Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason for wearers to stop using contacts. Use rewetting drops daily or talk with your eye doctor about contact lens types that work best for your eyes.
  • Indoor environment. Air conditioning, fans, and air heating systems can decrease the humidity indoors and cause symptoms of dry eye. Try using a humidifier in your house if you notice the air getting dryer.
  • Outdoor environment. If you are outdoors in dry or windy conditions, wear a pair of sunglasses or hat to reduce your exposure to the elements which can cause dry eyes.
  • Smoking. Can cause eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
  • Aging. Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Menopause. Women who have completed menopause are at a greater risk for dry eye than men the same age.
  • Health conditions. Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eye- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
  • Medications. Prescription and nonprescription medications can have dry eye as a side effect.

What is a Black Eye?

A black eye forms when blood and fluids collect in the space around the eye causing swelling and discoloration. Typically, a black eye is considered a minor injury.

What causes black eyes?

A black eye is caused by bruising surrounding the eye, not inside the eye. This bruising is caused by broken blood vessels under the skin. A blow to the eye, nose, or head is the most common cause for a black eye, but surgical procedures near the eye or nose could also cause a black eye.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Headaches
  • Temporary blurry vision

How do I prevent black eyes?

You cannot always foresee an eye injury, but one way to prevent black eyes is to wear protective eyewear. If the activities you participate in require or recommend eyewear, such as safety glasses, face shields, or goggles, abiding by these recommendations and wearing eye protection will significantly decrease the risk of a face or eye injury and can keep you in the field or in the game.

How do I get rid of a black eye?

Typically, most black eyes heal on their own within one to two weeks. While healing, the black eye will change color varying in shades of purple, blue, green, or yellow. There are, however, a few steps you can take to help the healing process and relieve pain.

  • Apply a cold compress. A cold washcloth, bag of peas, or chilled spoon can help to alleviate pain and bring down swelling within the first 24 hours.
  • Taking pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to relieve pain.
  • Apply a warm compress. After applying cold packs for the first day or two, apply a warm compress to the eye to increase blood flow in the area.
  • Lightly massage the area surrounding the bruise a few days after injury.
  • Snack on pineapple. Pineapples have enzymes to help reduce inflammation.

If your black eye does not subside, vision changes, bleeding occurs within the eye, or you notice other signs of infection, schedule an appointment or give our office a call. This could be a more serious issue that should be examined by an eye doctor.

Know the Facts About Cataracts

Did you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world? Cataracts affect nearly 20.5 million Americans age 40 and older.* If you are over the age of 50, you should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to detect cataracts as they develop.

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in your eye. Many people describe the feeling as if you are looking through a foggy or frosted window.

What causes cataracts?

Clouding of the natural lens in your eye is caused by proteins clumping together within the lens. It is unknown why the eye changes as the body ages, but these changes may cause cataracts to grow larger over time, resulting in an increased difficulty to see clearly.

Some factors that have been linked to cataract development are diabetes, obesity, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, and family history.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with cataracts can vary from person to person. However, there are a few key symptoms associated with most cases of cataract development. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to discuss your risk or development of cataracts.

  • Slight blur in vision
  • Vision is cloudy
  • Sunlight or lamps feel too bright
  • Headlights have more glare and/or a halo around them
  • Colors no longer appear as bright as they once did

Types of cataracts

Subcapsular

Subcapsular cataracts typically occur in the back of the lens and are most common in individuals with diabetes or those taking a high dose of steroid medication.

Nuclear

Nuclear cataracts are associated with aging and occur in the central zone of the lens.

Cortical

Cortical cataracts occur in the lens cortex and are associated with streaks which interfere with light passage through the eye.

Congenital

Congenital cataracts are present at birth and may be due to genetics or intrauterine infection.

Are cataracts preventable?

No studies have shown a way to prevent cataracts, however, there are recommended practices to help maintain eye health and lower your risk of developing cataracts.

  • Yearly comprehensive eye exams help maintain eye health and detect the development of cataracts at an early stage.
  • Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts. Quitting smoking provides a variety of health benefits lowering your risk for further cataract development.
  • Keeping up with treatment if you have diabetes or other medical conditions will help minimize your risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, provides increased overall eye health.
  • Wearing sunglasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation will decrease your risk of UV damage which has been linked to the development of cataracts.

 

*National Eye Institute (https://nei.nih.gov)