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9 Eye-Healthy Habits for Computer Users

As Covid-19 kept all of us homebound for long periods, the gaming industry grew by leaps and bounds. Then, even when countries began to reopen and jumpstart their economy, nobody abandoned their video games. In fact, sales of video games experienced a 35% jump.

Impact of Gaming on Eye Health

What are some of the effects of this rising role of gaming in our lifestyle? It translates directly into increased screen time, which our optometrist near you points out is linked to a variety of negative effects on eye health. For some of us, the digital era has turned our days into an endless view of screens. As a result, many people suffer the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, such as:

  • Less blinking, leading to dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye irritation, burning
  • Eye fatigue and strain
  • Headaches

While it’s unlikely that excessive screen time can cause irreversible damage to your eyes, dry eye syndrome and eye strain can worsen gradually – leading to painful vision and a decreased quality of life.

How to Preserve Healthy Vision with Computer Use

To help keep your vision healthy, despite all the long periods spent at a computer, the eye doctor near you recommends the following habits:

  1. The 20-20-20 Rule Instead of staring for hours on end at a computer screen, take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Follow this rule – every 20 minutes, move your eyes to look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Set Up Good Lighting Glare and other visual disturbances can make it harder to read text, which can lead to eye strain. By angling your monitor away from light sources and windows, you can eliminate glare from the screen.
  3. Adjust Screen Brightness When adjusting the lighting in your office or home is too tricky, change the monitor’s brightness instead. Rule of thumb – make it as bright as the room you are in.
  4. Take Eye Health Vitamins Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids are a great addition to your eye care routine, helping to fortify your eyes against problems.
  5. Block Blue Light You can wear specialized blue light glasses to shield your eyes from harmful blue light emitted by digital devices, or install a blue light filter on your digital screen. Not only will these protective devices help promote quality eye health, but they can also help you sleep better at night.
  6. Eat Nutritiously A healthy, balanced diet will keep your body at its peak and improve vision to boot. Some good food choices include cold-water fish, like salmon, tuna and sardines, nuts, eggs, legumes, whole grains, berries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
  7. Increase Font Size A small font size can cause you to squint and hunch over to see the screen clearly. By enlarging the font, you can avoid the discomfort caused by this position.
  8. Sleep Enough Not getting enough sleep can lead to eye fatigue, which interferes with your everyday life and productivity.
  9. Visit Our Eye Clinic Near You for Regular Eye Exams Getting your eyes checked is essential for proper eye health. It’s the only reliable way to detect or rule out an eye disease or condition that requires early treatment.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Philadelphia eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Fox Chase Family Eye Care eye clinic near you in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 215-621-8497

Fox Chase Family Eye Care, your Philadelphia eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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  • Why do I need to have my eyes examined by an Optometrist if the nurse at my last physical exam says I can see 20/20?

    The nurse performed a “sight test”, when you come to see your Optometrist we perform an “Eye Exam”. A “sight test” only measures if you can see 20/20. An “Eye Exam” measures all aspects of visual function: sight (or visual acuity), binocular vision function (the ability of the eyes to work together), visual pathway integrity, and the overall health of your eyes. Seeing 20/20 is an important part of the overall function of your eyes; however, just because you can see 20/20 does not necessarily mean your eyes are 100% healthy. There are many conditions that exist in which someone can still see 20/20. To name just a few examples: Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, and even Retinal tears or detachments (if the macula is unaffected). I recommend having a full eye exam every 1-2 years, even if you are in good health and feel like you don’t need glasses.

  • Does reading my smartphone or tablet in the dark damage my eyes?

    Reading from a tablet or smartphone in the dark is okay for your eyes, as long as this is not for a long period of time. There is good lighting from these devices, with good contrast. There is, however, the blue light emitted from these devices. Blue light is a short wavelength light, with high energy that may cause damage to the structures of the eye if exposed for a long period of time. As well, studies have shown this blue light can disrupt melatonin production which is required for a healthy sleep cycle. Doctors of Optometry recommend limiting screen use during the last hour before bedtime.

  • What is blue light and why is it dangerous?

    Blue light is part of visible light and close to UV on the light spectrum. It is naturally produced by the sun, used in fluorescent light bulbs and emitted by LED screens on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. The eyes’ natural filters do not block blue light and chronic exposure can cause age-related macular degeneration. Evidence also shows that blue light exposure can lead to sleep problems.’

  • My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?

    These are often signs of dry eye syndrome, a very common condition that affects many people over time. Women are generally more prone to developing these symptoms and aging is often a cause as well. Dryness of our eyes is often due to a decrease in the oil production in our eyelid glands which causes the surface of the eye to become irritated. Certain medications and health issues can also contribute to dryness. There is no true cure for dryness but many treatments are available such as the use of artificial tears, nutritional supplements incorporating Omega 3, prescription medications such as Restasis, and eyelid hygiene. No single treatment works for every individual so we customize treatments for each person and their specific condition.

Computer learning and vision problems

Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we’re seeing a lot of our kids spend an enormous amount of time in front of a computer.

This has bad consequences not just for adults that have eye fatigue and strain, but especially in younger children who are still developing their vision. Our visual system needs to be actively involved in using all our space. Not just our close distances like reading and computers, but also moving outside in an infinite space setting like a playground.

Our visual system uses being outdoors to kind of recalibrate, and have good functional focusing ability. Studies show that children who are indoors a lot like in China tend to have higher degrees of myopia or nearsightedness.

The ability to be outside, to play, and have sports is very important for the visual system.

Here are a couple of things we can recommend for your child or young adult that might be spending a lot of time in front of the screen.

First of all, I would suggest the 20-20-20 rule.

Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen, hopefully, 20 feet or more.

Looking outside a window is ideal. Relax your eyes for about 20 seconds. This will be a visual break. If your teacher doesn’t like it, tell them your eye doctor is recommending this. You can still listen to what your teacher is saying, however, you should relax your focus periodically.

Also, make sure that when you are reading or writing that you are no closer than the Harmon distance. The Harmon distance is between knuckle and elbow. If you see your child getting closer and closer to their work, check their Harmon distance and move them back. This is very effective when dealing with younger children. I did this with my daughter when she was 4, and she would check her Harmon distance by putting her elbow on the desk and backing her head up to her knuckles. If you see the children are still doing this a lot, have them checked by a developmental optometrist because, very often, a low plus lens can help the child relax their focus.

You can also make sure that if your child is experiencing eye pain, strain, discomfort, double vision or blur, that you get them in to see their developmental optometrist. We can prescribe glasses for their best comfort at near. We want to preserve our vision & our children’s vision & keep our nation strong despite this pandemic.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Philadelphia eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Fox Chase Family Eye Care eye clinic near you in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 215-621-8497

Fox Chase Family Eye Care, your Philadelphia eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

FOLLOW US

  • My child had a vision exam at my Paediatrician, why do I need to come to the eye doctor?

    Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. However, they can’t be relied on to provide the same results as a comprehensive eye and vision examination. Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. Screenings can take many forms. Often schools provide periodic vision screenings for their students. A pediatrician or other primary care physician may do a vision screening as part of a school physical. When applying for a driver’s license, chances are your vision will be screened. Many times vision screenings are part of local health fairs put on by hospitals, social service agencies or fraternal groups like the Lions and Elks Clubs. While vision screenings can uncover some individuals with vision problems, they can miss more than they find. This is a major concern about vision screening programs. Current vision screening methods cannot be relied upon to effectively identify individuals in need of vision care. In some cases, vision screening may actually serve as an unnecessary barrier to an early diagnosis of vision problems. They can create a false sense of security for those individuals who “pass” the screening, but who actually have a vision problem, thereby delaying further examination and treatment. Undetected and untreated vision problems can interfere with a child’s ability to learn in school and participation in sports or with an adult’s ability to do their job or to drive safely. The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the less it will impact an individual’s quality of life.

  • I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?

    Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long-term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers, and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.

  • What causes myopia?

    Myopia is caused by a combination of heredity and environmental factors. Studies show that if we can move the focal point in front of the mid-peripheral retina we can slow the progression of myopia. The increased use of cell phones and computers, as well as less time outdoors, is probably a contributing factor.

  • Do I need an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?

    Both are eye doctors that diagnose and treat many of the same eye conditions. The American Optometric Association defines Doctors of Optometry as: primary health care professionals who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They prescribe glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy and medications as well as perform certain surgical procedures. The main difference between the two, is that ophthalmologists perform surgery, where an optometrist would not, preferring to specialize in eye examinations, as well as eyeglass and contact lens-related services. Optometrists would be involved in all of the pre-and post-operative care of these surgical patients; collecting accurate data, educating the patient, and insuring proper healing after the procedure. An ophthalmologist is more of a medical-related specialist, who would need only to be involved if some kind of surgery were being considered. An optometrist can treat most any eye conditions, including the use of topical or oral medications if needed. This might include the treatment of glaucoma, eye infections, allergic eye conditions, dry eyes and others, to name just a few. A third “O” that often is overlooked is the optician. An optician is not a doctor, and they cannot examine your eye under their own license. However, a highly trained optician plays an indispensable role in the most successful eye doctor’s offices. An optician most often handles the optical, contact lens, and glasses side of things. Based on their vast knowledge of lenses, lens technology and frames, they manufacture eyeglasses, as well as assist in the selection of eyewear based on the requirements of each individual patient.’

Why Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive To Light?

Did you know that blue eyes don’t contain any blue pigment? They appear blue due to how the light reacts with the structures of the iris. 

In fact, the top layer of a blue iris doesn’t contain any pigment at all. This lack of pigment is the reason that blue-eyed people may be more sensitive to bright light and have a greater need to wear sunglasses than their brown-eyed counterparts. 

Why Do Your Eyes Need Sun Protection? 

Eyes of all colors need shielding from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to UV light can contribute to the formation of short-term and long-term eye conditions such as corneal sunburn and macular degeneration. 

That’s why it’s so important to choose high-quality sunwear with 100% UV blocking lenses, and to throw on a sun hat for an added layer of protection. 

UV protection is important for individuals of all ages—especially children—who are more susceptible than adults to the sun’s harmful rays, and tend to spend more time outdoors. It is estimated that up to 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before the age of 18. 

Why are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light? 

Lighter colored eyes like blue, hazel and green have less of a pigment called ‘melanin’ than brown eyes do. 

Melanin helps protect the retina from UV damage and blue light, putting those with blue eyes at a higher risk of developing UV-related eye damage.

If you have blue eyes, you may have experienced this first-hand. Bright light may be uncomfortable or you may want to reach for your shades as soon as you leave the house on a sunny day.

That’s why optometrists urge blue-eyed patients to be particularly vigilant about UV protection, so as to mitigate their chances of developing eye disease and other complications. 

How We Can Help

Whether you have blue eyes or not, sunglasses are an important part of keeping your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

At Fox Chase Family Eye Care, we’ll be happy to advise on the perfect high-quality and protective pair of sunglasses to suit your needs and personal style. 

To learn more about the eye care services we offer or to schedule an eye exam, contact Fox Chase Family Eye Care in Philadelphia today!

Q&A: 

#1: Should I wear sunglasses even when it’s not sunny outside? 

Yes! You should wear your sunglasses whenever outdoors during the day, even on an overcast, winter day. UV light can pass through clouds and reflect off surfaces like car windows and pavement.

#2: What type of sunglasses are the most suitable for blue eyes? 

The most protective sunglasses are wraparound sunglasses that protect the eyes from every angle. You can also opt for photochromic lenses, which offer total UV protection but only become tinted when exposed to outdoor sunlight, and turn clear when you come indoors again. Your optometrist can help you choose the best lens and frame options for your needs and lifestyle. 

COVID-19: Protect Your Eyes From Too Much Screen Time

You and your children are likely spending more time on mobile devices and computer screens than ever before. Too much time spent staring at screens can cause computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, in certain people. While not serious, this condition can be very uncomfortable, potentially causing:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness

Below are some useful tips to help you and your children avoid computer vision syndrome:

Blink more! 

Staring at a screen strains the eyes more than reading printed material because people tend to blink 30-50% less. This can also cause your eyes to dry out. Be mindful of blinking and make it a habit when focusing on a screen, as it will keep your eyes healthy and lubricated.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule 

Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object located 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Doing so will allow your eyes to relax and will give both you and your eyes some rest.

Keep your distance

Your eyes work harder to see close up than at a distance. Try keeping your monitor or screen at arm’s length, or about 25 inches away.

Lighting matters

Make sure that your surrounding light is similar in strength to the light emanating from your screen. Contrasting levels of light, such as looking at a bright screen in a dark room, can strain the eyes.

Take breaks from the screen

You may want to stipulate ‘screen free’ time for yourself and/or your children, such as during meal times or for several hours throughout the day. Engage in hobbies that don’t require a screen, such as drawing, reading books, doing puzzles, playing an instrument or cooking (among many others).

Don’t use devices before bed

Studies show that blue light may affect your body’s circadian rhythm, also known as the natural wake and sleep cycle. Stop using screens one to two hours before bedtime or use nighttime settings to minimize blue light exposure.

Although it may require a bit of planning to protect your family’s eyes during this stressful time, ultimately, it’s all about balance — and what works for you and your family may differ from others.

From all of us at Fox Chase Family Eye Care at Philadelphia, we wish you good health and please stay safe.