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

12/22/15


Susan DeRemer, CFRE
Vice President of Development
Discovery Eye Foundation

Increased Awareness for Saving Vision

The following is a survey done by Essilor (a French company that produces ophthalmic lenses along with ophthalmic optical equipment) and a large marketing research firm in the UK, YouGov. While the focus in on people living in the UK, the results would probably be similar to the US population. Even with increased access to the Internet, many people are still not aware of the risks associated with eye disease and what they can do to help retain their vision. Increased awareness of informational resources are important for saving vision.
saving vision
There are a number of websites with easy to understand information about taking care of your vision that I have listed under Resources to Help Save Vision at the bottom of this article. And while there are eye diseases that are hereditary, you can slow the onset and progression by making good lifestyle choices about smoking, diet and exercise. Your eye care specialist is also an excellent source of information about what you can to do reduce your risk of vision loss, at any age.

Increased Awareness for Saving Vision

A YouGov poll conducted with Essilor reveals that most Britons are unaware of damage to their eyes by surrounding objects, activities, and devices. This widespread lack of awareness means fewer people seeking methods of prevention and avoidance, and for those that are aware of risks, most are not informed of existing preventative measures.

The poll has shown* that many British people remain uninformed about the various ways in which eyes are damaged by common daily factors, despite evidence that eye health is affected by blue light, UV rays (reflected from common surfaces), diet, obesity, and smoking.
Of the 2,096 people polled, the percentage of respondents aware of the link between known factors affecting and eye health were:

  • Poor diet – 59%
  • Obesity – 35%
  • Smoking tobacco – 36%
  • UV light, not just direct from the sun but reflected off shiny surfaces – 54%
  • Blue light from low energy lightbulbs and electronic screens – 29%

More than one in ten people were completely unaware that any of these factors could affect your eyesight at all.
saving vision
72% of respondents own or wear prescription glasses but only 28% knew that there were lenses available (for both prescription and non-prescription glasses) to protect against some of these factors; specifically, blue light from electronic devices and low energy light bulbs, and UV light from direct sunlight and reflective surfaces.

76% admitted they haven’t heard of E-SPF ratings – the grade given to lenses to show the level of protection they offer against UV.

Just 13% have lenses with protection from direct and reflected UV light, and only 2% have protection from blue light (from screens, devices, and low energy bulbs).

Poll results showed that younger people were most aware of the dangers of UV and blue light, yet least aware of how smoking tobacco and obesity can affect your eye health. Within economic sectors, middle to high income people are more aware of the effects of smoking & obesity on eyesight than those with low income –

  • 39% of people with middle to high income compared to 33% of people with low income are aware of the impact of smoking tobacco.
  • 38% of people with middle to high income compared to 31% of people with low income are aware of the impact of obesity.

Awareness of the impacts of smoking and obesity on eye health is significantly higher in Scotland (47% & 49% respectively) than anywhere else in the UK (35% & 33% in England and 40% & 38% in Wales).
Essilor’s Professional Relations Manager, Andy Hepworth, has commented: “The lack of awareness about these common risks to people’s eyes is concerning. Not only would many more glasses wearers be better protected, but also many people who do not wear glasses would likely take precautions too, if made aware of the dangers and the existence of non-prescription protective lenses.”

To see the full results of the poll, please visit the Essilor website.

For more information on the protection offered from blue light and UV through specialist lens coatings, for both prescriptions and non-prescription glasses, please see here for UV & Blue Light Protection options.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,096 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st and 24th August 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Resources To Help Save Vision
All About Vision
Macular Degeneration Partnership
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Prevent Blindness

10/16/15


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

6 Ways Women Can Stop Vision Loss

Women account for 53% of the world’s population. However, 2/3 of the blind and visually impaired people in the world are women. While 80% of these women are in developing countries, women in developed countries like the US are still more likely to face vision loss than men.
women can stop vision loss

Why are women more prone to eye disease than men?

Women are the caregivers in families, taking care of the health of family members over themselves. In addition, with many having jobs outside the home, they don’t feel they have the time to go to the doctor until something major happens, especially related to vision.

Women live longer than men are at greater risk for age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.

Women are more likely to develop several autoimmune diseases that can affect their eyes including, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sj?gren’s syndrome.

75% of new breast cancer diagnosed each year is estrogen-sensitive. A common part of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer treatment includes the prescription of tamoxifen. More studies are being done, but cataracts due to tamoxifen have been identified in about 10% of the patients taking the drug.

What can women do to lessen their chances for eye disease?

Know your family history as genetics play and important role in your eye health, so know what eye diseases run in your family. Let your eye doctor know so he can look for early warning signs that can help prevent of lessen the conditions in you.

Get routine comprehensive, dilated eye exams starting at the age of 40, to create a baseline for your doctor to work from. After that you can go every 2-4 years until the age of 60. At 60+ have a compressive, dilated exam every two years if you are symptom-free and low risk.

Eat healthy and exercise. It is important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of some eye diseases. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is also important as they can contain carotenoids an some antioxidants that appear to help with vision retention. It should also be noted that in many studies, supplements did not show the same beneficial effects as whole foods.

Stop smoking! You not only increase your risk for cancer and heart disease, but smoking is the only thing besides advancing age that has been proven to be directly related to AMD.

Avoid ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses (with wide-brimmed hats) and indoor glasses with UV protection. While everyone knows the sun is a source of UV light, so are electronic screens such as your TV, computer, tablet or smartphone. Prescription glasses and readers can have a clear UV coating put on them that will not distort your color vision. If you don’t need vision correction, there is eyewear with no correction that is coated to protect your eyes to avoid dry eye and retinal damage.

Use cosmetics and contacts safely. Always wash your hands first. Throw away old makeup and lens solutions. Do not share cosmetics or apply while driving. Make sure to clean your lenses thoroughly before putting them in your eyes.

Because women are relied upon to take care of the family, vision loss that can impact that responsibility can be devastating to the entire family. And later in life, when they may have outlived a spouse, the isolation and depression can destroy their quality of life as they try to cope on their own.

Reach out to women you know and remind them to take an active part in their own healthcare. Especially with regards to their vision, when women are at a higher risk of vision loss than men.

4/7/15


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

Ways to Reduce the Harmful Effects of Sun Glare

During the height of summer sunshine (and heat!), it’s helpful to discuss the importance of eye protection, including ways to reduce the harmful effects of sun glare.

Fundamentally, we need light to see. Approximately 80% of all information we take in is received through the sense of sight. However, too much light – and the wrong kind of light – can create glare, which can affect our ability to take in information, analyze it, and make sense of our surroundings.

Facts about Sunlight

Every type of light has advantages and disadvantages, and sunlight is no exception:

Advantages:

• Sunlight is the best, most natural light for most daily living needs.
• Sunlight is continuous and full-spectrum: the sun’s energy at all wavelengths is equal and it contains all wavelengths of light (explained below).

Disadvantages:

• It is difficult to control the brightness and intensity of sunlight.
• Sunlight can create glare, which can be problematic for many people who have low vision.
• Sunlight is not always consistent or reliable, such as on cloudy or overcast days.

Visible Light and Light Rays

An important factor to consider is the measurement of visible light and light rays, beginning with the definition of a nanometer:

• A nanometer (nm) is the measurement of a wavelength of light.
• A wavelength is the distance between two successive wave crests or troughs:

Wavelength - glare

• A nanometer = 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter, or one-billionth of a meter. It’s very small!

The human visual system is not uniformly sensitive to all light rays. Visible light rays range from 400 nm (shorter, higher-energy wavelengths) ? 700 nm (longer, lower-energy wavelengths).
Visible Light Spectrum - glare
The visible light spectrum occupies just one portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, however:

• Below blue-violet (400 nm and below), is ultraviolet (UV) light.
• Above red (700 nm and above), is infrared (IR) light.
• Neither UV nor IR light is visible to the human eye.

Ultraviolet Light and Blue Light

Ultraviolet (UV) light has several components:

• Ultraviolet A, or UVA (320 nm to 400 nm): UVA rays age us.
• Ultraviolet B, or UVB (290 nm to 320 nm): UVB rays burn us.
• Ultraviolet C, or UVC (100 nm to 290 nm): UVC rays are filtered by the atmosphere before they reach us.

Blue light rays (400 nm to 470 nm) are adjacent to the invisible band of UV light rays:

• There is increasing evidence that blue light is harmful to the eye and can amplify damage to retinal cells.
• You can read more about the effects of blue light at Artificial Lighting and the Blue Light Hazard at Prevent Blindness.

A new study from the National Eye Institute confirms that sunlight can increase the risk of cataracts and establishes a link between ultraviolet (UV) rays and oxidative stress, the harmful chemical reactions that occur when cells consume oxygen and other fuels to produce energy.

Sunlight and Glare

Glare is light that does not help to create a clear image on the retina; instead, it has an adverse effect on visual comfort and clarity. Glare is sunlight that hinders instead of helps. There are two primary types of glare.

Disability glare

• Disability (or veiling) glare is sunlight that interferes with the clarity of a visual image and reduces contrast.
• Sources of disability glare include reflective surfaces (chrome fixtures, computer monitors, highly polished floors) and windows that are not covered with curtains or shades.

Discomfort glare

• Discomfort glare is sunlight that causes headaches and eye pain. It does not interfere with the clarity of a visual image.
• Sources of disability glare include the morning and evening positions of the sun; snow and ice; and large bodies of water, (including swimming pools).

Controlling Glare

You can protect your eyes from harmful sunlight and minimize the effects of glare by using a brimmed hat or visor in combination with absorptive lenses.

• Absorptive lenses are sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet and infrared light, reduce glare, and increase contrast. They are recommended for people who have low vision and are also helpful for people with regular vision.
• Lens colors include yellow, pink, plum, amber, green, gray, and brown. Ultra-dark lenses are not the only choice for sun protection.
• Lens tints in yellow or amber are recommended for controlling blue light.
NoIR Medical Technologies: NoIR (No Infra-Red) filters absorb UVA/UVB radiation and also offer IR light protection.
Solar Shields: Solar Shields absorb UVA/UVB radiation and are available in prescription lenses.
• You can find absorptive lenses at a specialty products store, an “aids and appliances store” at an agency for the visually impaired, or a low vision practice in your area. Before you purchase, it’s always best to try on several different tints and styles to determine what works best for you.

More Recommendations

• Always wear sunglasses outside, and make sure they conform to current UVA/UVB standards.
• Be aware that UV and blue light are still present even when it is cloudy or overcast.
• Make sure that children and older family members are always protected with UVA/UVB-blocking sunglasses and brimmed hats or visors.

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