Wearing Contact Lenses in Winter

Wearing Contact Lenses in Winter This has been a cold winter so far, and since it is only January, it is bound to get colder. The extreme cold, combined with winds, snow, rain and other environmental factors, can really take a toll on your eyes. And while it may be snowing or raining, winter air is actually drier than any other season. This can be especially difficult if you wear contact lenses. Here is what you should know about wearing contact lenses in winter.

  • Wear sunglasses for protection from UV rays and wind. Your eyes can become sunburned which cause blurry vision and can make your eyes feel like they are burning (think of your sunburned skin feels) for 24 to 72 hours. It will also protect your eyes from snow, rain or anything else the wind can send your way.
  • Avoid direct sources of heat such as heating vents and fireplaces. Indoor heating can draw the moisture out of the air, so consider a humidifier to help maintain the correct amount of moisture in the air to help keep eyes moist. Cool-air humidifiers have less of a tendency toward mold and bacteria.
  • Speaking of hydration, we also tend to drink less water in the winter months, so make a concentrated effort to keep up your water intake.
  • If it is so dry, why are my eyes watering? This is a common question and the answer may be a bit counter-intuitive. Anything that irritates your eyes, including dryness, causes a tearing reflex. Your tear glands go into overdrive trying to replace the moisture to your cornea. To try and reduce the tearing, you can use eye drops or artificial tears specifically designed for use with contact lenses.
  • Your eyes are not the only thing that dries out in the winter, so does your skin. Try to put in your contacts before moisturizing your skin, especially your hands. So wash your hands, put in your lenses and then use your creams and lotions.
  • Change out your contact lenses regularly in cold weather according to the recommended schedule, be it daily, every two weeks or monthly. This will allow them to better conduct oxygen, reduce irritation and increase comfort.
  • Take a break from your contacts and wear your eyeglasses. Putting them on when you get home from work can make a big difference. Contact lenses dry your eyes out on their own, when you add cold weather it gets that much worse.
  • Get plenty of sleep, which also helps with the dryness and fatigue. This will help you start the day with your eye refreshed and ready for the many things you will put them through throughout the day ahead.

Do you have any other suggestions that have helped you cope when wearing contact lenses in winter?


  Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE Vice President of Development Discovery Eye Foundation

Top 10 Articles of 2015

eye facts and eye disease
In looking at the many articles we shared with you in 2015, we found that your interests were varied. From the science of vision, eye facts and eye disease to helpful suggestions to help your vision.

Here is the list of the top 10 articles you read last year. Do you have a favorite that is not on the list? Share it in the comments section below.

    1. Rods and Cones Give Us Color, Detail and Night Vision
    2. 20 Facts About the Amazing Eye
    3. Understanding and Treating Corneal Scratches and Abrasions
    4. 32 Facts About Animal Eyes
    5. 20 Facts About Eye Color and Blinking
    6. When You See Things That Aren’t There
    7. Posterior Vitreous Detachment
    8. Can Keratoconus Progression Be Predicted?
    9. Winter Weather and Your Eyes
    10. Coffee and Glaucoma: “1-2 cups of coffee is probably fine, but…”

Do you have any topics you would like to see discussed in the blog? Please leave any suggestions you might have in the comments below.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Silent Thief of Sight – Glaucoma

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. The National Eye Institute, through their education program NEHEP, have created this infographic to provide you with information you need to know about this blinding eye disease.

When adults reach their 40s, they often begin to notice small changes in their vision that can affect their daily lives and jobs. It could be difficulty in reading a book or working on a computer. This can be annoying, but it can often be addressed by seeing an eye care professional for comprehensive dilated eye exam. This allows the doctor to detect diseases and conditions that can cause vision loss and blindness and yet have no symptoms in their early stages.

Silent Thief of Sight – Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of these age-related eye diseases that has no early symptoms, which is why it is called the silent thief of sight. It is actually a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form disease.

In addition to an eye exam, you can reduce your chances of losing your vision to glaucoma by also:

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle that includes maintaining a proper weight, eating healthy foods, and not smoking.
  2. Know your family history to determine if you are at a higher risk for some eye diseases.
  3. Protect your eyes against harmful UV rays from the sun or your computer by wearing sunglasses when you are outdoors or computer glasses when using the computer for extended periods of time.
Silent thief of sight glacoma
Courtesy of NEI/NEHEP


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

9 Tips To Relieve Digital Eye Strain

Online shopping has continued to grow this year, which means more people are spending more time on computers, tablets and phones. While the convenience of online shopping can’t be beat, it could be costing us sleep, giving us headaches, making our vision blurry…and even affecting our posture.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain (DES), also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), is a consequence of spending two or more hours at a time looking at a digital screen. Nearly 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours each day using digital devices, while 25% of children use digital devices more than 3 hours a day.

This can result in dry or itchy eyes, blurred vision, eye twitches, headaches and even back and neck pain. Using digital devices for an extended period of time increases your tendency to lean into the device, as you try to focus or compensate for glare from reflected light (room lighting or windows). Holding these positions for long periods of time are what create the back and neck pain.

As for the many eye symptoms, they can come from

  • poor lighting
  • improper viewing distance from device
  • not blinking often enough
  • poor screen contrast
  • glare on the screen
  • UV blue light

To help you deal with DES, here are 9 tips to relieve digital eye strain.

9 tips to relieve digital eye strain


Susan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

6 Tips to Help With Holiday Stress

We all know that the holidays can be stressful with the many demands of shopping, baking, parties and the expectation that you should be filled with cheer and goodwill. This is all daunting under the best circumstances, but if you are also losing your vision to eye diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, the depression can increase.

6 Tips to Help With Holiday Stress

holiday stress
Being realistic, planning ahead and asking for help will let you deal with the stress and depression that may come with the holidays. Here are six tips that will help you deal with the pressures of the holidays, with additional tips for those with vision loss.

  1. Begin by realizing you don’t have to be happy just because the holidays are here. You may have experienced a loss of someone close to you that makes celebrating the holidays hard.
    With vision loss: You may miss seeing or putting up decorations; baking for friends and family; or seeing the joy and smiles of loved ones. You can’t force yourself to be cheerful because of the time of year.

  3. While the common reaction to depression is stay home and isolate yourself, don’t, it will only make you feel worse and dwell on things you cannot change. Join friends when they ask you out, find community events to attend or volunteer. Sharing time with others can provide a welcome distraction and lift your spirits.
    With vision loss: It is common to be uncomfortable with asking friends and family for a ride, but if they are attending the same party of community event, ask them if you can get a ride. They won’t mind a will be glad you are there. Worst case, call a taxi or use Uber.

  5. Don’t expect perfection. You need to define for yourself what would make a great holiday and not let the media and retail stores tell you what the holidays should be. Also remember that your traditions will change as your family changes and grows. Look at this as an opportunity to be creative and start new traditions.
    With vision loss: Scale your holiday to what is comfortable to you. If fewer decorations make it safer and easier for you to navigate around your home, then reduce the number of things that go up to a few larger items you can enjoy more easily – you can even “decorate” with holiday music.

    Even traditions may need to change. Allow someone else to host the family or neighborhood celebrations. It is nice to pass the honor on and you won’t be so stressed and tired you can’t enjoy the festivities.

  6. Plan ahead so you don’t feel the pressure. This refers to budgeting both time and money.
         • Plan extra time for decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping presents, or any other activity you want to include. Rarely do things run smoothly, especially at holiday time.
        • Decide how much money you can spend, and stick to it. To make money go further, give homemade gifts, start a gift exchange instead of shopping for everyone in your family or office, or make a donation to a charity in someone’s name.

    With vision loss: The same concepts apply – you need to budget your time and money.

  7. Don’t over extend yourself and learn to say no. If you don’t you may become resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and family will understand if you can’t do everything. If your guilt gets the better of you, ask the person making the request to help with the tasks. They will gain a new appreciation of what you do.
    With vision loss: Don’t be afraid to let people know that you may not be able to do things as easily as you could in the past. No one, except you, know the limitations you have with your vision. It can be very uncomfortable for others if they think they are asking too much of you, and you could become resentful for being asked to do something beyond your capabilities.

  9. Stay healthy. The best way to do this is to watch what you eat and drink, get plenty of sleep, continue any exercise routine you have and take time to relax.
         • You will be tempted with lots of sweets and snacks. Try eating something healthy like cut veggies before you go to the party to curb your appetite. Remember to limit your alcohol because of the calories and the fact that it is a depressant.
         • Sleep will keep you alert and better able to focus what you want to get done and will help keep you more positive.
         • Exercise is a great way to help relieve the stress you feel, give you an extra burst of energy and help you clear your head.
         • Taking 15-20 minutes to just listen to music, take a bath, go for a walk or read book can help you think more clearly and relax. You will actually get more done when you can “re-charge” yourself.

    With vision loss: Everything listed above is good for good eye health. A good diet of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and exercise are very important. Being tired can affect how well you see, and stress has been known to have an adverse effect on a person’s vision.

Because of the busy holiday season, this month we will only be publishing once a week, on Tuesdays.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Low Vision Aging Adults at Higher Risk for Falls

Low vision in aging adults varies as do the occupational therapy techniques that might help older adults in becoming more independent. Mr. P has glaucoma resulting in a narrowed field of view. He is light sensitive, and keeps his blinds closed, darkening the house. He is responsible for doing his laundry, yet his washer and dryer are in the basement, causing a safety concern. Mrs. K has macular degeneration with 20/400 visual acuity. She has severely reduced contrast sensitivity, and can no longer drive or recognize faces easily. She no longer gets to the senior center for regular exercise sessions, which is concerning to her and her OT. Ms. T was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. She has struggled for years to accurately see her glucometer and insulin. She has recently developed peripheral neuropathy, leading to wheelchair dependency. Each of these patients is likely to leave their home less often because of their low vision, eventually leading to a decline in lower extremity weakness, balance, endurance and confidence. The fear of falling leads to more isolation, which can cause even more lower extremity weakness, problems with balance, decreased endurance, and even depression. The irony is that this cycle, which began with caution and a fear of falling, lends itself to exactly that. . .a fall.

Why are low-vision aging adults at higher risk for falls?

According to the CDC, “Each year, millions of older people-those 65 and older-fall. In fact, one out of three older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The typical aging adult with low vision faces challenges that others do not. Difficulty seeing details combined with reduced contrast sensitivity leads to a decline in mobility and socialization.
risk for falls
risk for falls
So how do we help older adults with low vision lower their risk for falling? When considering safety within the home, persons with low vision must make it a priority to add lighting & contrast whenever possible. Consider all rooms of the house, including entrances, hallways and stairways.

  • Placement of night lights in hallways, stairway, etc.

  • Keep flashlights in accessible places throughout the home where night lights are not possible.

  • Instead of closing blinds, keep them open & wear appropriate colored filters to manage glare/light sensitivity.

  • Small battery operated stick-on lights or rope lighting is inexpensive, and easy to place on steps to light up a stairwell.

  • Line edge of steps, or stairway railing with brightly colored duct tape to increase visibility.

  • Make sure grab bars, tub benches, shower chair are high contrast, to be most visible.

  • Remove throw rugs, with the exception of those providing function, such as the one at the entrance and bathtub. Their purpose is for providing dry shoes and feet, but they should have a non-skid back and a high contrast color to “stand out.”

  • Reduce clutter in rooms to increase safety by removing items from floors, walkways and stairwells.

  • Consider investing in a Medical Alert System to provide added piece of mind, confidence, especially when living alone.

Persons with low vision can decrease their frequency of falls by staying social and walking in the community. Unfortunately, many low vision adults become more house bound when they can no longer drive. Locating sources of alternative transportation may be helpful. Seeing faces is difficult, making socializing a challenge, which can lead to depression. The following recommendations take into consideration the challenges of not seeing details or across the visual field normally, while improving lower body strength, endurance, coordination, confidence, and hopefully reducing the risk of a fall.

  • Encourage regular trips to the grocery stores and the mall to keep physically fit. Malls are safe environments to walk around because of wide, straight hallways. Use magnifiers to see price tag/label details, or take advantage of personal shoppers who assist with locating items.

  • Participate in regularly scheduled exercise sessions (videos, groups, etc). Sit/stand in the front row, ask instructor to provide clear verbal instruction, instead of only demonstration. Consider hiring a personal trainer in order to get 1:1 instructions for how to use exercise equipment. If watching a video, move closer to your largest TV screen. Home exercise equipment can be labeled with high contrast markings to increase visibility of its details.

  • Consider joining a senior center in the community. Some have low vision support groups.

  • Access driving alternatives, such as the Smart Bus, Senior Centers, Local Volunteer or Church groups. Consider using money previously spent for a car and its expenses to hire a private driver.

  • Use appropriate colored filters in bright outside conditions or darker inside environments (i.e. Amber outside in the sun; Yellow inside a dark restaurant or outside with overcast weather).

  • Consider using a walker or support cane when walking longer distances in the community or neighborhood. Many individuals decline using an assistive device, not realizing how active and fit it can make them. Rolling walkers are even available with seats, allowing for rest breaks wherever necessary.

While the fear of falling is great amongst all seniors, those with low vision need to consider adding strategies that specifically benefit them. Making changes within the home may be as simple as improving lighting and contrast. Remaining physically fit outside of the home may be done with shopping or exercise equipment, but either way staying active will improve confidence, the fear of falling, and hopefully decrease the chance of a fall. If you are unsure of what approach is best for you, consult with your ophthalmologist about scheduling a low vision eye exam and occupational therapy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control-CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People


Annette Babinski's headshot thumbnailAnnette M. Babinski, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center

Michelle Buck's headshot thumbnailMichelle Buck, MS, OTR/L CLVT
Henry Ford Health System
Vision Rehabilitation Center

Smoking and Your Eyes

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of eye disease.
smoking and your eyes
On the third Thursday of November each year, smokers across the nation take part in the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. This might be the ideal time for you to stop smoking and ACS has information and resources you may find helpful.

Here are some things you should know about smoking and your eyes.

  • Smoking at any age, even in your teens or twenties, increases your future risk for vision loss.

  • The more you smoke, the higher your risk for eye disease.

  • If you quit smoking, your risk for these eye diseases decreases considerably.

  • Smoking increases your risk for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence your eyes’ health.

  • Women who smoke during pregnancy increase their chance for a premature birth and a potentially blinding eye disease called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

  • A smoker is two times more likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.

  • Smoking double your chance of forming cataracts and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.

  • Smoking doubles your diabetes risk which can lead to the blinding eye disease, diabetic retinopathy.

  • Smokers are more than twice as likely to be affected by dry eye syndrome as a non-smoker.

  • Second-hand smoke also makes dry eye worse, especially for contact lens wearers and post-menopausal women.

  • If you smoke you can have a three-fold increase in the risk of developing AMD compared with people who have never smoked.

  • Smoking appears linked to the development of uveitis with smokers having more than twice the risk of non-smokers.

If you are looking to stop smoking you may also want to check out Smokefree.gov which provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

General Differences Between Polarized and Absorptive Lenses

Polarized and Absorptive Lenses

Polarized and Absorptive Lenses
Polarized lenses can be helpful in reducing glare; in fact, they were first developed to help with glare from outdoor sports and activities. Here is a passage from All About Vision that explains the basics of polarized lenses very well.

Light reflected from surfaces such as a flat road or smooth water generally is horizontally polarized. This means that, instead of light being scattered in all directions in more usual ways, reflected light generally travels in a more horizontally oriented direction. This creates an annoying and sometimes dangerous intensity of light that we experience as glare. Polarized lenses contain a special filter that blocks this type of intense reflected light, reducing glare.

Though polarized sunglasses improve comfort and visibility, you will encounter some instances when these lenses may not be advisable. One example is downhill skiing, where you don’t want to block light reflecting off icy patches because this alerts skiers to hazards they are approaching. In addition, polarized lenses may reduce the visibility of images produced by liquid crystal displays (LCDs) or light-emitting diode displays (LEDs) found on the dashboards of some cars or in other places such as the digital screens on automatic teller machines and self-service gas pumps. With polarized lenses, you also may be unable to see your cell phone or GPS device.

Boaters and pilots also have reported similar problems when viewing LCD displays on instrument panels, which can be a crucial issue when it comes to making split-second decisions based strictly on information displayed on a panel. (Some manufacturers of these devices have changed their products to solve the problem, but many have not yet done so.) Many polarized lenses are available in combination with other features that can enhance outdoor experiences.

Absorptive Sunlenses/Sunglasses do a little more than just reduce glare.

These are special wraparound sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. I explained those two types of light in my post. In addition to reducing glare, they can also increase contrast, which is important for visibility.

They also come in a variety of tints: dark gray-green, medium amber, medium gray, medium plum, yellow, orange, amber, and light orange. Many of the available tints/colors also have a percentage sign. The percentage sign represents the amount/percent of visible light that is transmitted through the lens. Here are some examples:

  • 32% medium gray
  • 10% medium amber
  • 2% dark gray-green
  • 20% medium plum
  • 65% yellow
  • 49% orange
  • 16% amber
  • 52% light orange

It is the tint – in combination with the amount of light transmission of each tint – that is helpful for people with glare issues. There are a few manufacturer websites that explain the range of absorptive lenses very well.

The first is NoIR Medical Technologies (NoIR stands for “No Infra-red” light.) You’ll see that there are different colors and tints, and many of the colors also have a percentage sign. The percentage sign represents the amount/percent of visible light transmitted through the lens.

Generally, NoIR recommends the following for people with glare problems:

  • 32% Grey
  • 13% Dark Grey
  • 18% Grey
  • 40% Grey-Green
  • 20% Plum
  • 16% Amber
  • 10% Amber
  • 54% Yellow

You can see from the list that the color does not have to be extremely dark for the lenses to reduce glare and light sensitivity.

Also, Eschenback Optik provides a good overview of Solar Shields, another type of absorptive lens product.

Most styles of absorptive lenses also can be fitted over prescription lenses. The bottom line is that it’s probably necessary to visit an office that carries a supply of these lenses and determine which color, tint, and percentage of light transmission is right for your wife. It’s helpful to compare several styles to determine what tint and percentage of light transmission work best.


Maureen Duffy, CVRTMaureen A. Duffy, CVRT, LVT
Social Media Specialist, visionaware.org
Associate Editor, Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness
Adjunct Faculty, Salus University/College of Education and Rehabilitation

Carrots For Healthy Eyes

Carrots forHealthy Eyes
Lately we have heard quite a bit about carrots and the positive effects they can have on your vision, such as slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is because carrots contain pigments called carotenoids. These pigments also give vegetables their colors, in this case orange. But carrots weren’t always orange.

The beginnings of carrots can be tracked back to the dry, hot lands of Iran and Afghanistan in 3000 BC, when the root vegetables were black, white, red and purple. They were bitter and used as a healing remedy for many illnesses, as well as an aphrodisiac.
carrots for healthy eyes
The vegetable grew in popularity because it was still edible even after months of being stored in a variety of conditions. Carrot seeds were soon picked and sold to neighboring Middle Eastern, African and Asian populations. This is when the crossbreeding started and new types of carrots were created.

Across centuries and continents, the carrot evolved, improving the composition, look, flavor and size. After years of selective breeding, in the 17th century a Dutch yellow carrot was engineered to get rid of the bitterness, increase sweetness and minimalize the wooden core. This appears to be the origin of the orange carrot we enjoy today.

Americans didn’t fully use carrots until after World War I when soldiers returning home told about French and other European cuisine which included the carrot. However, it didn’t really become popular until World War II, when England actively encouraged home growing of carrots while the US was engaged in cultivating “Victory Gardens.”

Today the carrot is found around the world in temperate regions. They have a high nutrition value, presence of ?-carotene, dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals and ability to be prepared in a wide variety of recipes. They have become a staple in many countries.

Currently, the largest producer and exporter of carrots in the world is China. In 2010, 33.5 million tons of carrots and turnips were produced worldwide, with 15.8 million tons from China, 1.3 million tons each from the US and Russia, 1 million tons from Uzbekistan and less than a million from Poland, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Because of the popularity and health benefits of carrots, they are now enjoyed in a variety of ways – beyond the simple salad. Here are some recipes you might find interesting to try:

carrots for healthy eyesCrab Toast with Carrot and Scallion – Forget your traditional bruschetta, wow your guests with the appetizer.

carrots for healthy eyesPotato-Carrot Latkes with Lemon-Raisin Topping – Seems perfect with Hanukkah just around the corner.

carrots for healthy eyesRoasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup – This is a more traditional carrot recipe, it is not that hard to find a carrot soup, but this one also has squash and sweet potatoes which are also eye healthy!

carrots for healthy eyesCarrot Farfalle Pasta with Lemon and Herbs – Not only are carrots good for flavor, but they add a nice color to this pasta that could be the base for any number of pasta dishes.

carrots for healthy eyesCarrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting – Most carrot cakes have no frosting or a traditional cream cheese frosting. The idea of an orange frosting makes this cake special.

carrots for healthy eyesCarrot, Ginger, and Lime Juice – Refreshing and healthy.


Susan DeRemerSusan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation