Digital Eyestrain


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.”

The list of Digital Eyestrain symptoms is long:

Eyestrain, Burning Eyes, Difficulty Refocusing, Grittiness, Dry Eyes, Blurred Vision, Headaches, Irritation, Tired Eyes, Neck/Shoulder/Back Pain, Double Vision, and Redness.

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.


Bright Winter Eyes

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.

iStock_000023582367SmallSunglasses 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 snowUV and sunglasses 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.


Contact Lens Prescriptions

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. Dr. Griffith

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.


Red Winter Eyes

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. Tear FilmThe 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.

How to prevent dry eyes in winter:

  • Cold winter wind outdoors and dry heat indoors can cause or worsen dry eyes. Follow these tips to keep dry eyes at bay.
  • Wear sunglasses or goggles. Wearing close-fitting sunglasses outdoors reduces exposure to sun and wind that can dry out your eyes. If it’s especially cold and windy, try foam-lined goggles that provide even greater protection from tear evaporation.
  • Supplement your diet. Fish oil and other nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent or relieve dry eye symptoms.
  • Drink more water. Mild dehydration often makes dry eyes worse, especially during dry and windy weather.
  • Switch contact lenses. If your contact lenses feel dry and uncomfortable, ask me about trying different lenses that are replaced more frequently and/or are better for someone with dry eyes.
  • Maintain good eyelid hygiene. This includes thorough removal of all make-up and cleaning of the eyelashes and eyelids.

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 mask

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 Tears

Oasis  – A preservative-free artificial tear that contains long-molecule hyaluronic acid which keeps the moisture on the eye longer.



Dry Eyes and Sleep Deprivation

Woman rubbing her eyes after waking up

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 Evaluation?

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.

Meibomian gland dysfunctionTear quantity will be measured

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


Aging Eyes


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:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). An eye disease affecting the macula, the center of the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye. AMD can cause loss of central vision.
  • Cataracts. A clouding of the lens of the eye that usually develops slowly over time and can interfere with vision. Cataracts can cause a decrease in visual contrast between objects and their background, a dulling of colors and an increased sensitivity to glare.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy. A condition occurring in people with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop the condition, which can lead to blindness.
  • Glaucoma. An eye disease leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve due to rising internal fluid pressure in the eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness.
  • Dry Eyes. Dry Eye occurs when there is insufficient tears to nourish the eyes. This can be caused by medications, hormones and environmental factors. Poor tear quality can cause dry eye symptoms too.

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.


Vision Expo West

Riding Vespa at Vision Expo

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:

  • Global Frame Manufacturing. Italy was once the primary country for eyeglass frame manufacturing, but as with other industries, the factories have relocated in China for economic reasons. The next trend is a shift to India.  It takes time to train the workers and get the factories up to standard. The speaker emphasized that the quality of the product isn’t dependent of the country of production, but the individual factory of production. Some frame companies demand the highest standards of skill, environmental impact and human treatment.
  • Corneal Cross-Linking. Corneal X-linking is a treatment to stabilize a diseased corneal. Keratoconus is the primary condition that benefits from this procedure, and the earlier in the disease process it is performed the better the outcome and quality of life for the patient. Unfortunately, the US is the only non-third world country that doesn’t have approval. The FDA has delayed approval because corneal X-linking requires Riboflavin, a drug, and UVA radiation, a device. Apparently the FDA drug department and the FDA device department can’t work together. Until it is approved there are test sites in the US or patients have to leave the country for treatment.
  • Shades of Grey. Peg went to this course aimed at women and their maturing eyes and the tissue around the eye. Topics such as the risks and benefits of permanent make-up, Botox and Fillers were discussed. Common conditions like dry eye, the causes  and treatments were highlighted.
  • Eyefoods. This course was presented by Laurie Capogna, O.D., one of the authors of the book Eyefoods that I reviewed. She talked about preventative eyecare through nutrition and lifestyle. 2 take home points are Eyefoods do not Replace Supplements and Supplements do not Replace Eyefoods.
  • Strong and Unusual Lenses. The gist of this lecture was predicting the thickness and weight of lenses in various prescriptions. Utilizing different materials and lens treatments can improve the appearance and clarity of a high powered lens.
  • Oral Medications. This class included antibiotics, antivirals, steroids and supplements. The ocular complications of systemic medications  was also covered. For example Prozac can cause dry eye, light sensitivity and red eyes. Tamoxifen can cause changes to the macula.
  • Trouble-Shooting Eyewear Problems. The most important point in this class was to start with a good fitting frame. Not all frame designs work with all prescriptions and not all styles fit all faces.

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.


10 Steps to Relieve Computer Eye Strain


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.

Minimize Glare

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.

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation.
  • Text Size and Contrast. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents.
  • Color Temperature. This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term comfort.  

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.

Take Breaks

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.





Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

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.