A 2016 report by the Vision Council found that 60% of Americans use digital devices for 5 or more hours each day. 70% of Americans use 2 or more devices at a time.
The term Digital Eyestrain has replaced the term Computer Vision Syndrome due to the increase in types of digital devices. Digital Eyestrain is defined as “physical discomfort of one’s eyes after spending periods of time throughout the day in front of a digital device, such as a computer or smartphone.”
It is reported that we blink an average of 10 times a minute normally, when reading, using a smartphone or other device the blink rate drops to 4 times a minute. Blinking is a vital component to ocular surface health and tear stability. More important than how often we blink is how well we blink. An incomplete blink can cause more tear instability than not enough blinks. A complete blink is necessary to stimulate a muscle on the eyelid margin that releases an important component of the tear film.
Treatment for Digital Eyestrain includes wearing the best visual correction for the task. Reducing glare and fatiguing light with coatings is beneficial also. For contact lens wearers the proper correction for the working distance is important. A clean contact lens surface and proper blinking can minimize dry eye symptoms.
Protecting our eyes in the winter is essential for preventing short and long term problems.
Eye dryness is very common, especially on cold brisk days. Finding comfort near a warm toasty heater or fireplace can dry the eye surface too. Maintain good eyelid hygiene, stay hydrated and use artificial tears to control mild dry eye symptoms.
Sunglasses are important for preventing keratitis (a burn on the cornea surface) and aging effects such as cataracts, pinguecula and macular degeneration. Snow-blindness or keratitis is a painful corneal condition that can occur when the outermost layers of the cornea are damaged (like a sunburn). Damage can occur in as little as an hour of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the risk is intensified at higher altitude.
Damage to the eye doesn’t stop on the surface. Cumulative ultraviolet exposure damages the lens of the eye causing cataract formation. Research has also found that UV radiation contributes to macular degeneration.
Wearing good UV blocking sunglasses protects all layers of the eye. The UV radiation reflected off of water and snow is dangerous too.
Don’t hang-up your sunglasses because it is winter, year-round UV protection is a proactive way to promote good eye health and clear vision for adults and children.
A contact lens is a medical device, like a breast implant or a hearing aid. Contacts can be worn to correct vision as well as for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. In the United States, all contact lenses require a current prescription. A contact lens prescription generally expires on a yearly basis. This is to ensure that the eyes are healthy enough to support contact lens wear and that the current contact lenses are still the most appropriate.
An eye examination is necessary to determine the suitability of contact lenses and also to determine the size, parameters and limitations of the eye. This typically includes a refraction to determine the proper power to see clearly, keratometry to measure the shape and size of the cornea and a thorough health assessment of the eye.
Conditions that may complicate contact lens wear include dry eye, irregular and high astigmatism and eyelid irregularities.
Colder temperatures, winter winds and moisture zapping heaters can cause dry, red and irritated eyes. Tears are essential for good eye health and clear vision. They bathe the eye, washing out dust and debris, and keep the surface moist and clear. The natural tear film also contains enzymes that neutralize microorganisms, reducing the risk of eye infections. The most common signs and symptoms of dry eyes are persistent dryness and irritation, scratchiness, a burning feeling in your eyes and red eyes. Oddly enough, dry eye syndrome also can make your eyes watery, as dryness can cause a protective overproduction of the watery component of your tears.
Dry eyes may not be completely curable but the dryness, scratchiness and burning sensation can be managed. In addition to dry eye evaluations, Westside Optometry carries products we have found most beneficial for dry eye treatment.
Bruder Masks – a reusable hot compress
Cliradex – Individual wipes to naturally clean and promote overall eye and skin health
Avenova – A daily spray that cleans debris and microorganisms from eyelids and eyelashes, as well as reducing inflammation.
Oasis – A preservative-free artificial tear that contains long-molecule hyaluronic acid which keeps the moisture on the eye longer.
Sleep deprivation has been reported to contribute to several disease processes and to reduce longevity. It leads to hormonal and neurochemical changes. In the short term lack of sleep reduces performance and alertness. Cognition and memory are impaired and the risk of injury increases with sleep deprivation. In the long term the consequences of sleep deprivation are worse: high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and depression. Now you can add dry eye to the list.
A recent study of very healthy young male subjects implies that the tears are negatively affected by less sleep. The subjects were not allowed to sleep for 24 hours. When multiple measurements of their tears were compared to the subjects that slept for 8 hours there was a significant difference. The tears evaporated quicker, the tear volume was less and inflammatory markers were higher. It doesn’t take much to imagine that combined with other factors that contribute to dry eye disease such as medications, hormones and eyelid health, sleep deprivation will worsen the condition. Dry eye disease is a common ocular surface disease associated with symptoms of eye discomfort, grittiness and visual disturbance.
Conquering the causes of sleep deprivation should be foremost in maintaining good health, and having a dry eye evaluation to improve the tear quality is also recommended.
What happens at a dry eye exam?
If you are suffering from gritty, burning, red eyes; chances are your eyes are dry. The best treatment for your symptoms will depend on the cause of the condition which can be determined during a dry eye evaluation.
A dry eye exam begins with a questionnaire to help the doctor understand how dry eyes is affecting you daily and determine causes. Causes can be hormonal, medication induced, environmental factors and mechanical.
Tear quality will be assessed.
The eyelids will be examined for underlying disease and contributing factors.
Once the doctor diagnoses the cause(s) of your dry eye she will develop a treatment plan.
What are dry eye treatments?
Eyelid hygiene is very important to the quality of the tears. The doctor will prescribe a hygiene program which may include hot compresses and a type of lid cleaning depending on the underlying cause of the dry eye condition.
Prescription eye drops may be required to quiet inflammation or improve the quality of tear producing goblet cells.
Non-preserved artificial tears may be prescribed
Oral supplements such as omega 3 can be prescribed to enhance tear quality.
Resolution of dry eyes takes time. Ongoing maintenance is often required to keep the eyes clear and comfortable.
How to Schedule an Evaluation
Westside Optometry is scheduling Dry Eye Visits on Thursdays. We ask that you’ve had a complete eye examination within the last 12 months, before a dry eye work-up. To schedule an exam or dry eye evaluation online hit the appropriate link below or call 707-762-8643
Schedule an Eye Examination
Schedule a Dry Eye Evaluation
It’s a fact of life that vision can change over time, resulting in a number of noticeable differences in how aging adults see the world around them.
Common age-related vision problems include difficulty seeing things up close or far away, problems seeing in low light or at night, and sensitivity to light and glare. Some symptoms that may seem like minor vision problems may actually be signs of serious eye diseases that could lead to permanent vision loss, including:
Many eye diseases have no early symptoms and may develop painlessly; therefore adults may not notice changes in vision until the condition is quite advanced. Healthy lifestyle choices can help ward off eye diseases and maintain existing eyesight. Eating a low-fat diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish, not smoking, monitoring blood pressure levels, exercising regularly and wearing proper sunglasses to protect eyes from Ultraviolet (UV) rays can all play a role in preserving eyesight and eye health. Early diagnosis, treatment of serious eye diseases and disorders is critical and can often prevent a total loss of vision, improve adults’ independence and quality of life.
The best way to prevent eye disease and continue leading an active productive live is to maintain yearly eye exams or follow the doctor’s recommendations.
It wasn’t all fun and games in Las Vegas this past weekend. Before Peg and I rode the Vespa under the Arc de Triomphe, we checked out the newest progressive lenses and learned some new measurement techniques.
Between Peg and I we attended 12 hours of education ranging from frame manufacturing to oral medications to nutrition. Here are the highlights of each course we want to share with you:
Besides classes, we spent a lot of time in the exhibition hall which was divided into 3 areas: Eyewear & Accessories, Lenses & Processing Technology and Medical and Scientific. I purchased a new piece of testing equipment that I will talk more about when it arrives. We also visited vendors of dry eye treatments whose products Dr. Staton and I will be evaluating so we can better address our patient’s dry eye issues. Lastly, Peg visited many frame companies. She has a short list of new products that we will transition into our dispensary as we update our frames.
Many occupations require the use of technology, often in the form of a computer, but also as a tablet or smartphone. Americans on average spend 6 to 9 hours a day in front of digital devices. Studies show that eye strain can cause physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased work error.
Here are 10 easy steps you can take to reduce your computer eye strain and other symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS):
Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Having a comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems.
Use Proper Lighting
Eye strain is often caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use your computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. Eliminate exterior light by closing drapes, shades or blinds. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Again, reduce the effect of outside and overhead lighting. If you wear glasses, request anti-reflective coating to reduce glare from the surface of your eyeglass lenses.
Upgrade your Display
If you are using an older CRT monitor replace it with and LCD (liquid crystal display), like those on a laptop. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. When selecting a new flat panel display, select a screen with the highest resolution possible. Resolution is related to the “dot pitch” of the display. Generally, displays with a lower dot pitch have sharper images. Choose a display with a dot pitch of .28mm or smaller.
Adjust your Computer Display Settings
Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.
Blink More Often
Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. When working at a computer, people blink less frequently and most of those blinks are incomplete. The tears coating the eye evaporate more rapidly when the eye is wide open staring at a computer monitor. Also the air in many office environments is dry which can increase how quickly the tears evaporate. To reduce the risk of dry eyes during computer use, try to blink regularly and completely.
Exercise your Eyes
Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for 20 seconds. I call this the 20-20-20 Rule. Looking away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.
To reduce your risk of CVS and neck, back and should pain, take frequent breaks during your computer day. This doesn’t mean check your phone; get up and move around.
Modify your Workstation
If you need to look back and forth between a printed page and a monitor, or between multiple monitors, make sure your targets are all the same distance from your eyes. Place written pages adjacent to the monitor, and place monitors in a semi-circle around you. Light the printed material well, but don’t shine the light in your eyes or at the monitor.
Consider Computer Eyewear
For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having a pair of glasses made for your specific computer situation.
A common complaint I hear is “my eyes burn and water.” Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is a common, chronic condition and is usually the cause of the discomfort. MGD occurs when the opening to the meibomian gland is plugged. The openings to the glands are at the edge of the eyelid margins, near the base of the eyelashes. The blockage can be caused by make-up, lotions, and sunscreens that plug the opening. Other factors are usually involved too. For example, skin conditions such as acne rosacea are a common cause of MGD. Age, sex, hormonal disturbances, allergies and certain medications negatively affect the glands too.
The treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Hot compresses and eyelid hygiene is always recommended. Dietary modifications, inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids and hydration are beneficial. For more advanced cases, topical and/or oral medications may be required to control MGD.
If left untreated, the glands will thicken and scar causing chronic dry eye signs and symptoms and more discomfort.