Is Too Much Screen Time Harming Children’s Vision?

Is Too Much Screen Time Harming Children’s Vision?
childrens eye health increasing screen time
As children spend more time tethered to screens, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development. Ophthalmologists are seeing a marked increase in children with dry eye and eye strain from too much screen time. But does digital eye strain cause lasting damage? Should your child use reading glasses or computer glasses?
As you send your kids back to school this month for more time with screens and books, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic along with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are arming parents with the facts, so they can make informed choices about their children’s eye health.

It’s a fact that there is a world-wide epidemic of myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Since 1971, the incidence of nearsightedness in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent. In Asia, up to 90 percent of teenagers and adults are nearsighted. Clearly, something is going on. But scientists can’t agree on exactly what.

“Since 1971, nearsightedness in the US nearly doubled to 42 percent.”

A new study appearing in the journal of the AAO, offers further evidence that at least part of the worldwide increase in nearsightedness has to do with near-work activities; not just screens but also traditional books. And, that spending time outdoors — especially in early childhood — can slow the progression of nearsightedness. It remains unclear whether the rise in nearsightedness is due to focusing on phones all the time, or to light interacting with our circadian rhythms to influence eye growth, or none of the above.

While scientists look for a definitive answer, there is no doubt that most computer users experience digital eye strain. Kids are no different from adults when it comes to digital eye strain. In fact, they can experience dry eye, headaches and blurry vision too. While symptoms are typically temporary, they may be frequent and persistent.

But this does not mean they need a prescription for computer glasses or that they have developed an eye condition of middle-age that requires reading glasses, as some suggest. It also doesn’t mean blue light coming from computer screens is damaging their eyes. It means they need to take more frequent breaks. This is because we don’t blink as often while using computers and other digital devices. Extended reading, writing or other intensive near-work can also cause eye strain. Ophthalmologists recommend taking a 20 second break from near-work every 20 minutes.

“Children need to take more frequent breaks. This is because we don’t blink as often while using computers and other digital devices.”
 

Here are ten tips to help protect your child’s eyes from computer eye strain:

 

  • Set a kitchen timer or smart device timer to remind them.

  • Alternate reading an e-book with a real book and encourage kids to look up and out the window every two chapters.

  • After completing a level in a video game, look out the window for 20 seconds.

  • Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.

  • Avoid using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas, as the glare on the screen can create strain.

  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen so that it feels comfortable to you.

  • Use good posture when using a computer and when reading.

  • Encourage your child to hold digital media farther away, 18 to 24 inches is ideal.

  • Create a distraction that causes your child to look up every now and then.

  • Remind them to blink when watching a screen.

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Sunglasses: Your Prescription for Eye Health

Sunglasses: Your Prescription for Eye Health

sunglasses-eye-health

Next time you step outside to enjoy the summer sun, don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses.

Most people know that the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays are bad for the skin. But did you know that too much sun
on unprotected eyes increases the risk of eye diseases? This summer, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic and the American Academy
of Ophthalmology remind you that sunglasses are more than a fashion statement; they are a healthy choice.

Long-term exposure to the sun without proper protection can increase the risk of eye disease, including cataract, macular degeneration, growths on the eye, and a rare form of eye cancer. Even short-term exposure can damage the eyes. Sun reflecting off water can cause a painful sunburn on the front part of the eye, called photokeratitis. It causes redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to bright light, and in rare cases, even temporary vision loss. 

The good news is that prevention is simple: wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. When purchasing sunglasses, ophthalmologists urge the public to choose substance over style, and consider these six shopping tips: 

SHOP LABELS:

The single most important thing to look for when buying sunglasses is a sticker or tag indicating that they block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. 

BUY OVERSIZED:

The more coverage from sunglasses, the less sun damage inflicted on the eyes. Consider buying oversized glasses or wraparound-style glasses, which help cut down on UV entering the eye from the side. 

DON’T BE FOOLED BY COLOR:

While very dark lenses may look cool, they do not necessarily block more UV rays. 

CONSIDER YOUR SPORT:

Some sunglasses come with amber, green or gray lenses. They do not block more sun but can increase contrast, which may be useful  for athletes who play sports such as baseball or golf. 

CONSIDER POLARIZED LENSES:

Polarization reduces glare coming off reflective surfaces like water or pavement. This does not offer more protection from the sun, but can make activities like driving or being on the water safer or more enjoyable. 

DON’T BREAK THE BANK:

Sunglasses don’t have to cost a lot of money to provide adequate eye protection. Less expensive pairs marked as 100-percent UV-blocking can be just as effective as pricier options. 

It’s important to protect your eyes year-round, not just during the summer. Harmful UV rays are present even on cloudy days. Keep your eyes healthy; wear sunglasses. 

To shop UV-blocking and polarized sunglasses, visit our optical

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Three Things You Should Know About Cataracts

Three Things You Should Know About Cataracts
Approximately 25 million Americans have cataracts, which causes cloudy, blurry or dim vision and often develops with advancing age. As a result, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in observing Cataract Awareness Month by sharing three things everyone should know about the condition and its treatment.
what-does-a-cataract-look-like
As everyone grows older, the lenses of their eyes thicken and become cloudier. Eventually, they may find it more difficult to read street signs, and colors may seem dull. These symptoms may signal cataracts, which affect about 70 percent of people by age 75. Fortunately, cataracts can be corrected with surgery. Ophthalmologists, physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care, perform around three million cataract surgeries each year to restore vision to those patients. The following are facts people should know about the condition:

1. Age isn’t the only risk factor for cataracts.

Though most everyone will develop cataracts with age, recent studies show that lifestyle and behavior can influence when and how severely you develop cataracts. Diabetes, extensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and certain ethnicities have all been linked to increased risk of cataracts. Eye injuries, prior eye surgery and long-term use of steroid medication can also result in cataracts.

2. Cataracts cannot be prevented, but you can lower your risk.

Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and brimmed hats when outside can help. Several studies suggest eating more vitamin C-rich foods may delay how fast cataracts form. Also, avoid smoking cigarettes, which have been shown to increase the risk of cataract development.

3. Surgery may help improve more than just your vision.

During the procedure, the natural clouded lens is replaced  with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens, which should improve your vision significantly. Patients have a variety of lenses to choose from, each with different benefits. Studies have shown that cataract surgery can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of falling.

If cataracts are interfering with your ability to see well, consider asking your eye doctor about cataract surgery.

Get an idea of what someone with cataracts might experience with this cataract vision simulator.

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Five Steps to Lower Your Risk of Eye Disease

Five Steps to Lower Your Risk of Eye Disease
healthy eating vision
By age 65, one in three Americans will have a vision-impairing eye disease. Many sight-robbing conditions can be effectively treated if detected early enough, in many cases limiting or eliminating the damage to eyesight. During the month of May, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in sharing valuable information about how to take care of your vision.
Four eye diseases — age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts — account for most cases of adult blindness and low vision among people in developed countries. Because these eye diseases cause no pain and often have no early symptoms, they do not automatically prompt people to seek medical care. But a thorough checkup by an ophthalmologist can detect them in their earliest stages. Early treatment is vital because it can slow or halt disease progression or, in the case of cataracts, restore normal vision.
“Early treatment is vital because it can slow or halt disease progression.”
A thorough eye exam can also detect other health conditions such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and some cancers. It’s not uncommon for a trip to the ophthalmologist to actually save a life.

Follow these five simple steps to take control of your eye health today:

    1. Get a comprehensive medical eye exam at age 40. Early signs to disease or changes in vision may begin at this age. A comprehensive eye exam is an opportunity to carefully examine the eye for diseases and conditions that may have no symptoms in the early stages.
    2. Know your family history. Certain eye diseases can be inherited. If you have a close relative with macular degeneration, you have a 50 percent chance of developing this condition. Talk to family members about their eye conditions. It can help you and your ophthalmologist evaluate your risk.
    3. Eat healthy foods. A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold-water fish.
    4. Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk for eye diseases such as cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also raises the risk for cardiovascular diseases, which can indirectly influence your eye health. Tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, also worsens dry eye.
avoid-smoking-eye-health
5. Wear sunglasses. Exposure to ultraviolet UV light raises the risk of eye diseases, including cataract, fleshy growths on the eye and cancer. Always wear a hat and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection while outdoors.

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Nearly All Workplace Eye Injuries Can Be Avoided with Eye Protection

Nearly All Workplace Eye Injuries Can Be Avoided By Wearing Eye Protection

avoid-eye-injuries

On-the-job safety goes well beyond avoiding slips, falls and heavy lifting. Caring for your
eyes should be a high priority and part of an overall workplace wellness routine. Each day, about two thousand U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. However, 90 percent of these accidents can be avoided by wearing eye protection.

Most Common Eye Injuries

Workplace eye injuries cost more than $300 million a year in lost productivity, treatment and compensation. These injuries range from simple eye strain to trauma, which may lead to permanent damage, vision loss and blindness. This is particularly true for workers in construction, manufacturing and mining. Approximately, forty percent of eye injuries in the workplace happen in these three industries.

If an eye injury does occur, an individual should seek care from an eye care professional or go to an emergency room for immediate care.

Caring for Your Eyes on the Job

Caring for your eyes on the job should not be limited to those who do physical labor, however. People who spend long hours working on a computer can experience eye discomfort. Focusing on small font type for hours on end can cause eye strain, fatigue and headaches. Staring at screens for long periods can also leave eyes parched and red, causing eyes to become dry from lack of blinking. This happens frequently as computer screens or other digital displays reduce a person’s blink rate by as much as 50 percent.

eyestrain-workplace-eye-injuries

“Computer screens or other digital displays reduce a person’s blink rate by as much as 50 percent.”

Follow these tips to help avoid workplace eye injury or strain:

WEAR PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR

Ensure that your eye protection is appropriate for the type of hazard that may be present in your workplace, such as flying debris, falling objects, chemicals, intense light and heat. Your eyewear must be American National Standards Institute ANSI- approved and OSHA compliant. You must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shield or helmet if you are near hazardous radiation welding, chemicals, lasers or fiber optics.

POSITION YOUR COMPUTER 25 INCHES AWAY

If you are working on a desktop computer, try placing the monitor at an arm’s length away from your face. You may need to adjust the font size to appear larger at that distance.

FOLLOW THE 20-20-20 RULE

Eye strain and dry eye occur after long, continuous periods of viewing digital screens up close. To help alleviate this, take a break every twenty minutes by looking at an object twenty feet away for twenty seconds. Looking at a distance allows your eyes to relax and return to a regular rate of blinking again. Normally, people blink about 14 times a minute and with every blink, your eyes are lubricated with fluid that contains moisturizing elements, including oil.

REDUCE GLARE ON YOUR SMARTPHONE AND DIGITAL SCREEN

While many new phones and digital devices have glass screens with excellent picture quality, they also
produce a strong glare that can aggravate the eyes. If you use a glass screen device, adjust the low light filter setting to lower screen brightness or use a matte filter to reduce eye strain.

ADJUST ENVIRONMENTAL LIGHTING AT YOUR WORK

If your computer screen is brighter than your office surroundings, your eyes need to work harder to see. You can reduce eye strain by adjusting the lighting in your surroundings.

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Seeing. The future.

Physician Journal
Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome

It is one of the most common problems treated by eye physicians. It is usually caused by a problem with the quality or amount of the tear film that lubricates the eyes.

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What is a Refractive Laser Treatment?

The question as to whether a laser will be used in treatment of a patient’s medical conditions, has been asked for nearly thirty years of the health care professional. Many new forms of laser applications have evolved in that time and today laser devices are used in many areas of medicine, none perhaps more than in Ophthalmology.

read more
Glaucoma? SLT for me please

Glaucoma? SLT for me please

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. In our country, nearly 3 million people have glaucoma. Much like high blood pressure, it can be present without symptoms.

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iStent : Size does matter

iStent : Size does matter

The iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass device has recently been released for the treatment of glaucoma. The iStent is the smallest FDA-approved medical device in existence! Smaller than the head of a pin, it is placed in the eye at the time of cataract surgery to help reduce eye pressure by enhancing fluid exit.

read more

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What is a Refractive Laser Treatment?

by Lee Hofer, M.D.

The question as to whether a laser will be used in treatment of a patient’s medical conditions, has been asked for nearly thirty years of the health care professional. Many new forms of laser applications have evolved in that time and today laser devices are used in many areas of medicine, none perhaps more than in Ophthalmology.

What began years ago as laser light treatments for diabetic eye changes and glaucoma conditions, has today grown to include several additional glaucoma laser applications, skin treatments, and intraocular cataract laser usage both prior to and post cataract surgery to name a few. The highly publicized LASIK and its cohort procedure, PRK, have been used to reduce or eliminate a patient’s dependency on spectacles for 20+ years. This is the area of refractive laser surgery, where a laser application is made to the front surface of the eye, the cornea, to reshape it and compensate for the optics of the eye.

Laser treatments are done to eliminate the common forms of eye glass correction.

You either choose laser correction for distance and use reading spectacles or you wear glasses for distance and read without.

These laser treatments are done to eliminate the common forms of eye glass correction, myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism (shadowing of images), and in some cases hyperopia (farsightedness). While the typical need for reading glasses can be addressed, you can not have your cake and eat it too in refractive surgery. You either choose laser correction for distance and use reading spectacles or you wear glasses for distance and read without. There are some variations of this but in brief, that is the choice.

However, more and more advances are being made in the technology of intraocular lenses which are placed into an eye with each cataract surgery as a replacement lens. There exists today, types of lenses known as Premium Lenses, which can offer some patients greater independence visually from spectacles, but not necessarily complete independence. When cataract patients choose such a Premium Lens to be placed at their cataract surgery, they are hopeful of good distance vision and an additional range of intermediate and near vision, often allowing them to read much of the typical printed materials in their daily lives.

“Because these promising advances of intraocular lens technology are available, the patient that chooses such a lens is understandably hopeful for a greater range of useful vision with less spectacle need.”

While our cataract removal procedures today are more precise than ever, as are the methods of calculating the lens power to be implanted, some occasions arise where the post cataract surgery result is short of the goal. This is the situation where the Refractive Laser comes into consideration. Usually, in these situations, some basic form of common refractive error, myopia or astigmatism remain.

If, after an adequate healing period of 4-6 months, this persists, a type of laser known as an Excimer laser can be used to treat this residual refractive amount by reshaping the cornea in the same fashion that has been done for 20+ years for patients seeking independence from glasses. It is a quick procedure, taking less than ten minutes in most cases and after healing, usually within 2 weeks, noticeable visual improvement is achieved with complete recovery at 2-3 months.

The addition of this procedure to compliment or complete the cataract visual recovery process has been of great benefit to many people. When discussing cataract surgery with your eye care professional, ask them if you would be a Premium Lens candidate and after any cataract surgery, if you feel your visual outcome is short of your expectation, engage your surgeon in the discussion of whether Laser Refractive Surgery would be advisable.

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Age-Related Macular Degeneration Leading Cause of Blindness Among Seniors

Most Americans Unaware of One of the Leading Causes of Blindness Among Seniors
Age-Related-Macular-Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among seniors, affecting approximately 2.1 million people nationwide. By 2050, it is expected that the number will more than double to 5.4 million. People may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk of vision loss by neglecting to have sight-saving eye exams.
Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing AMD awareness and encouraging those who are most at risk to ensure the health of their eyes by getting an eye exam from an ophthalmologist – a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.

AMD is a degenerative disease that damages the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that focuses images and relays information to the brain. Over time, retinal damage can lead to permanent loss of central vision, limiting the ability to drive, read and recognize faces.

Healthy-Eyes-Aging

“By 2050, it is expected that the number of those affected by AMD will more than double to 5.4 million.”

There are two forms of AMD – wet and dry. While the dry form of AMD leads to gradual vision loss, the wet form progresses at a faster rate and is responsible for 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness. Recent advancements in treatment options have significantly decreased the incidence of blindness. However, it is critical to get diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible to protect vision.

Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic recommends the following steps to help potentially avoid AMD and other eye diseases:

Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams.

AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an ophthalmologist is critical to diagnosing and treating the eye disease in its early stages. The Academy recommends that people over age 65 get an exam every one to two years, even if they have no symptoms of eye problems.

Quit smoking.

Numerous studies have shown smoking to increase the risk of developing AMD and the speed at which it progresses. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.

Know your family’s eye health history.

If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. Before you go in for your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. Sharing this information with your ophthalmologist may prompt him or her to recommend more frequent eye exams. The earlier AMD is caught, the better chances you may have of saving your vision.

Eat a diet rich in omega-3s and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Several studies have shown that people who had a reduced risk of AMD had diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish. In one study of patients who were at moderate risk for AMD progression, those who reported the highest omega-3 intake (not in the form of a supplement) were 30 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD after 12 years. In another study, an increased risk of AMD was found in individuals who had a higher intake of saturated fats and cholesterol and in those with a higher body mass index.

Exercise regularly.

Many studies have shown that getting regular exercise can benefit your eyes. One study found that exercising three times a week reduced the risk of developing wet AMD over 15 years by 70 percent.

Degenerative diseases, such as AMD can now be successfully treated, but early detection is imperative to avoid lasting consequences. Schedule your comprehensive eye exam today.

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