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The Dangers of Blue Light and What You Can Do

We are privileged to live in an advanced age at the turn of the 21st century. Electronic devices are everywhere in our world today and make our everyday interactions with the world around us ever easier, safer and more convenient. Although many positive effects have resulted from these devices in our everyday lives, a darker, more dangerous side exists to all of this progress and convenience. Blue light, also known as high energy visible light, is emitted by many of these electronics, and is a serious threat to eye health which was previously unknown and irrelevant in generations past.

Living in such an advanced age, each of us, on average, spends roughly 25 hours every week staring at the screen of one of our electronic devices. To put this in perspective, that means that each of us spend more than one entire day, without sleeping, in front of devices that emit blue light that is proven to do serious damage to our visual system. Eyestrain, headaches and fatigue are common side effects. Even more alarming, recent studies indicate that blue light exposure has the potential to increase risk of macular degeneration significantly over time. Those with a history of macular degeneration are at special risk, as well as children, due to large pupils and shorter arms, which cause them to hold electronic devices closer to their faces, both of which allow more blue light to penetrate the eye.

Fortunately, cutting edge technological solutions to this growing epidemic exist. BluTech Lenses are special lenses specifically designed to selectively filter out blue light, enhancing visual comfort and minimizing eyestrain. These lenses boast a special state-of-the-art filtering agent within the lens material itself that duplicates elements in the eye, called ocular lens pigment and melanin, which the body naturally produces on its own, and which help filter out just the right amount of blue light entering the eye to protect against unfettered blue light penetration, while allowing proper visual contrast.

Recharge is another cutting edge option to help cut down on the harmful effects of blue light. HOYA is the advanced eye care company that produces these lenses, which reflect up to 30% of harmful blue light away from the eye.

Between the filtering effect of BluTech and the reflective properties of the Recharge coating, a large percentage of otherwise very harmful blue light never reaches the eye. This is an extremely important element in the long term health of your eyes.

Patients who spend hours on electronic devices are at increased risk of eyestrain and glare, macular degeneration or problems falling asleep at night. For more information about blue light and how to protect yourself, contact your eye doctor today.

The Importance of Eye Exams For Children

Proper eye care is an extremely important part of a child’s development. Developments during this period will effect a child for the rest of his/her life. It is extremely important that children receive attention regarding their eyesight from a very early age to be sure that everything is developing correctly and to diagnose and treat any problems before they worsen or lead to more serious complications. Because many conditions may show symptoms even while your child is still an infant and become much harder to correct the longer they go untreated, it is very important to have regular eye exams for your child. Dr. Conner says, “Beginning from the age of 6 months, children should have comprehensive eye exams at least every year to assess any conditions that may hinder a child’s development.”

Many eye conditions that can cause difficulties later in life can be easily detected and treated in childhood if parents are cautious to have eye exams early and often for their children. Two such conditions are Strabismus and Amblyopia.

In Strabismus the eyes are not aligned together, with one eye looking straight while the other may look inward, outward, up or down. This happens when muscles that control eye movements are misaligned or underdeveloped. Children who have other conditions affecting development, such as cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, prematurity or brain tumors are especially susceptible. In eyes which are healthy and properly aligned, each eye sees essentially the same image of an object being viewed, with only slight variation and the brain combines these two slightly varied perspectives into a single interpreted image. This is called Binocular Fusion. In a child with Strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes sends completely different images, causing Binocular Fusion to be unusually difficult or impossible. The child’s brain eventually reacts to the differing images sent by the misaligned eyes by eliminating images coming from one of the eyes. This can cause a condition called amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Amblyopia, sometimes known as lazy eye is a condition in which a person has very poor sight in one eye because that eye did not develop healthy sight during the person’s development. Several problems can develop that can seriously effect vision from childhood into adulthood if amblyopia is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. The weaker eye may develop a serious and permanent visual defect and depth perception may be lost.

You should also be cautious to have regular eye exams for your child because your child’s success in school relies heavily upon enjoying proper vision. In these eye exams the doctor will check for less serious conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. “Your child’s eyesight is his or her front line in the struggle for knowledge. If your child doesn’t receive proper eye care, the classroom may just be one big blind spot, and you may be sentencing your child to failure before the battle has even begun.” cautions Dr. Conner. “Your eye doctor also needs to check early for basic skills related to good eyesight for learning. These include eye movement skills, Peripheral awareness and Hand-eye coordination.”

All About Dry Eyes

Sometimes a person is unable to produce enough tears or their tears do not possess the right qualities to keep eyes healthy and comfortable. This can cause a consistent lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye, known as dry eyes.

Normally, the eye constantly lubricates itself with tears by producing them at a slow and steady rate, keeping itself moist and comfortable. Usually these tears consist of three layers, an oily, a watery, and a mucus layer. Each layer has a specific role in lubricating your eyes. The oily layer is outermost. It’s main purpose is to slow evaporation of the tear. The watery layer is in the middle. This makes up the majority of what a person normally thinks of as tears. This layer cleans the eye and helps to wash away small foreign objects and particles. The inner layer consists of mucus. This mucus allows the watery layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly over the eye in order to keep it lubricated. In a person with dry eyes, either hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor causes the eye to either not produce enough tears, or leave out parts of the tear that make proper lubrication possible.

Dr. Conner explains, “Symptoms of dry eyes include stinging or burning in the eyes, scratchiness, and excessive irritation from smoke or wind. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the eyes’ response to the consistent irritation caused by dry eyes may also cause a person to experience excessive tearing. In this case, the eye is attempting to flush and lubricate itself by producing more tears, but is unable to do so successfully due to the rate of evaporation or inability to spread the tears properly.”

Although dry eyes are not always curable, your optometrist may prescribe artificial tears to help with some of the symptoms. Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that may help with dry, scratchy feeling eyes. Different artificial tears work in different ways. Some help replenish parts of the tear that your eyes are not producing on its own, others help to produce more tears overall. Your eye doctor will assist you to choose which will help you most. Dr. Conner cautions, however, “These artificial tears should not be confused with eye drops that are advertised to ‘get the red out.’ These eye drops may indeed reduce the appearance of redness in your eyes, but this is accomplished by making the blood vessels in your eyes smaller rather than actually lubricating your eyes. As such, these drops can sometimes actually make your symptoms worse. One should also be aware that if you wear contacts, some eye drops require you to take them out before using the drops and wait 15 minutes or more before reinserting your contact lenses.”

Some cases of dry eyes are seasonal, such as those which occur as a result of cold, dry winter air. In this case, your eye doctor may recommend wearing sunglasses or goggles when outdoors to reduce your eyes’ exposure to the sun, wind and dust. For indoors, your optometrist may recommend an air cleaner and humidifier to take dust out of the air and add moisture to air which is too dry.

Studies have also shown that nutrition may have a part in helping to relieve some symptoms of dry eyes. Your eye doctor may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, cod, herring and salmon, as well as flaxseed oil. Mild dehydration can make symptoms worse too, so be sure to drink plenty of water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices and milk.