With summer quickly approaching its inevitable end and autumn just around the corner, students across Los Angeles are dragging their parents (or is it the other way around?) to purchase notebooks, backpacks, and clothing for the impending new school year. As a kid, I was all about back-to-school shopping. As I picked up boxes of […]
With summer quickly approaching its inevitable end and autumn just around the corner, students across Los Angeles are dragging their parents (or is it the other way around?) to purchase notebooks, backpacks, and clothing for the impending new school year. As a kid, I was all about back-to-school shopping. As I picked up boxes of colorful pens, patterned notebooks, and anything else exciting I could get my tiny hands on, I dreamed of the endless possibilities these new school supplies represented. I couldn’t wait to doodle all over my notes and use all of the different colors of highlighter pens for my varying subjects.
During my middle and high school years, computer use first became standard in the classroom. My generation was the first to type up and print out essays while our parents sadly tucked their trusty typewriters into the back of the closet. But computer technology has become exponentially essential to the educational experience in the few short years since I was a student. Entire classes can now be completed in online forums. Students bring laptops to class to type lecture notes into word documents. Teachers email assignments in PDFs to be printed out and completed at home. Students rely on a plethora of tutorial software programs to assist them with homework and projects. And of course, no college research paper is complete without a bevy of sources, most of which have been conveniently digitized and stored in various online archives. To say we are in the age of the computer would be an understatement. We are fully immersed in an era of neverending technology.
It doesn’t just end with computers. Between smart phones, televisions, tablets, e-readers, and handheld video game consoles, the number of screens we look at on a daily basis is growing rapidly. Adults on average spend about 8.5 hours daily looking at device screens, while kids 8-18 spend roughly 7.5 hours doing the same. Children are getting their hands on these devices earlier, with some as young as 3 or 4 mastering use of cell phones and iPads. As of last year, approximately 273 million (roughly 87%) of the US population engages in regular computer use. At the rate technology is advancing, that number is unlikely to decrease any time soon.
So what does this say about that 273 million of us? Well, because we use so many devices, we are often subjecting our eyes to prolonged screen exposure. This means that many of us have, at one point or another, experienced some of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. These symptoms can include headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, color distortion, light sensitivity, dry eyes, and double vision, as well as other physical ailments like neck, back, and shoulder pain. We have difficulty reading from screens for a few reasons. Letters on a computer display are not as sharply defined as those in print. The contrast between font color and background color can vary greatly and sometimes is much more decreased than that of print. Displays can create glare and reflections, which put more strain on our eyes as we attempt to maintain focus on the screen. These circumstances are worsened by the fact that we often lose track of the amount of time we spend on our combined number of devices. Sometimes these symptoms are temporary and end once the exposure ends. But for many of us, these symptoms linger well after the work stops.
Children and teens are particularly prone to CVS for a few reasons. Their young eyes have not yet fully developed, putting extra strain on their vision. They tend to lose track of time spent on the computer or playing video games, so they are less likely to take breaks between projects. They also tend not to recognize signs of vision problems as well as adults do, which means they may not be able to recognize a growing vision complication. This extra strain increases their risk of early myopia, or nearsightedness, which has increased 66% among Americans over the past 30 years. On top of that, most computer setups are designed around adult use, and are not arranged in a comfortable setting for children. This puts more strain not only on their eyes, but also on their shoulders and necks.
So what can you do to alleviate these symptoms? First and foremost, an eye exam can determine the best optical solution. For those without glasses, computer glasses can be prescribed specifically for school and work use. If you already have a prescription, it’s a good idea to get reexamined to determine if your prescription has changed. Speaking to your doctor is the first and most important step in managing CVS. Also, try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from the computer [or any other screen] for 20 seconds while focusing on something 20 feet away. This occasional refocusing will help recalibrate your eyes and reduce the amount of strain. You should also reconsider the layout of your workspace. Is your chair at the optimal level for proper posture? Additionally, computer and laptop screens should be viewed at a distance of 18 to 28 inches away. Any closer will cause strain on your eyes. If you’re due for a new pair of glasses, or you find that your prescription has changed, consider getting AR, or anti-reflective lenses, which cut computer glare considerably and efficiently reduce eye strain.
So as the new school year unfolds, take a moment and make sure your children are able to use their eyes to their full potential! An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but an eye exam keeps the blurs at bay!
Sources: Optometric Management, July 2012; allaboutvision.com
Should You Buy Glasses Online? by Taylor Yates Like many American consumers, I love shopping online. A world of goods lies right there at your fingertips. Anything from shoes, to clothing, to appliances can arrive on your doorstep at the click of a mouse (and 5-7 business days)! Over the past few years, […]
Should You Buy Glasses Online?
by Taylor Yates
Like many American consumers, I love shopping online. A world of goods lies right there at your fingertips. Anything from shoes, to clothing, to appliances can arrive on your doorstep at the click of a mouse (and 5-7 business days)! Over the past few years, online shops have proven themselves invaluable in the worldwide marketplace. In my experience, however, the excitement and convenience of online shopping is too often accompanied by feelings of remorse, disappointment, and most importantly, disillusionment. That reoccurring inevitability, coupled with a very frustrated bank account, forced me to finally realize that buying online just isn’t the experience I want it to be.
What goes wrong in these transactions? Things look good on models, but don’t fit right on us mere mortals. Colors look a certain way on our computer screens, but translate much differently in person. Or, like the return form from an order gone wrong politely suggests, it just isn’t what we expected it to be. There are many reasons why an online purchase doesn’t work out, but when it comes to buying glasses online, those reasons multiply because there are many more personalized factors in play.
The leading online optical distributors have built a reputation on low prices and free shipping, and increasingly, patients have been requesting their prescription from their doctor so that they may find cheaper alternatives on their own. However, studies are showing that almost half of online-ordered prescription glasses do not meet the patient’s optical or physical needs. One study showed that, of 154 pairs of glasses ordered from the top ten internet optical vendors, more than one in five pairs were received with moderate to serious inaccuracies, impacting specifications such as lens treatments (like AR), lens prescriptions, and lenses that don’t meet the safety requirements for impact. At best, these errors keep you, the patient, from having glasses you may want or need in a timely fashion; at worst, these glasses can prove to be unsafe and may not meet rigid safety standards.
And then, of course, there’s the aesthetic expectation. Many of us are particular about what we wear and how it fits. Half of the fun and satisfaction of selecting glasses is the trial and error process, something you just don’t get online. Much like a clothing shop fitting room, the optometric office provides you with real time visual confirmation of a frame’s look, feel, and fit. Though some websites offer the opportunity to upload a picture to visualize their frames on your own face, it’s incomparable to the instant gratification of knowing you have found the very best pair at the very moment you want (and need) them. On top of that, frames for particular prescriptions, such as progressives, require a specific shape and size, something that is best determined in person with the guidance of a professional.
Why are 44.8% of online optical purchases dissatisfactory? Above reasons aside, it’s too soon to tell. Perhaps it’s the large scale in which online orders are processed. With so many orders being received in a day, it is easy for some of the important information to slip through the cracks. It is also possible that the online prescription process has grown too big, too quickly, leaving these online retailers scrambling to keep up and leaving them susceptible to oversight and error. Some of these companies were founded by people with a design background, but little to no optometric education, leaving your prescription and optical well-being in inexperienced hands. While they may boast their ability to save you money by “cutting out the middle man,” they also cut out the most important part: the doctors and trained technicians who can guarantee the accuracy, care, and satisfaction you expect (and deserve!). Ordering glasses is a highly personal experience and therefore requires a personal approach, something a website, despite its convenience, will always struggle to provide. So, while I continue to torture myself by ogling those cute beaded sandals online, I’m keeping the important optical decisions in the doctor’s office.
Source: Optometric Management Magazine, Jan. 2012
A Guide to Understanding Contact Lenses Last week’s article on contact lenses may have left you with more questions than answers. What kind of lenses are out there? Are there any that can help me with my specific vision needs? How do I determine which ones are right for me? This week, we’ll […]
A Guide to Understanding Contact Lenses
Last week’s article on contact lenses may have left you with more questions than answers. What kind of lenses are out there? Are there any that can help me with my specific vision needs? How do I determine which ones are right for me? This week, we’ll cover some basic information to help you decide with your doctor what your contact needs may be.
Uncomfortable contacts are now a thing of the past. Advances in technology have improved contact lens wear and have made vision correction even easier. Contacts can now be prescribed to correct a wide range of vision complications, including astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia, or presbyopia. Finding the right pair of contacts is a matter of discussing your lifestyle needs with your doctor.
Most patients find that soft lenses are the answer. Made of a water-based polymer, soft lenses allow the eye to breath easily and are designed for optimal comfort. These generally have a very short adjustment time, making them comfortable almost immediately. They can be prescribed for daily wear, or for those who lead an active lifestyle or participate in activities for which glasses are not a viable option. Because they are thin and flexible, soft lenses are delicate and you may need to adjust to using a gentle touch.
The most commonly prescribed soft lens is the daily disposable. Designed to be worn for just a day, these are the best option for patients suffering from allergies, dry eye, or sensitivity, and for patients who are wary of taking on the responsibility of a cleaning routine. One setback with dailies is cost, as you will need to replace them regularly; however, dailies offer less chance of infection, as you put in a new, sterile pair each day.
Another soft lens option is the extended wear contact. Made from silicone hydrogel, these lenses can be worn for a longer period of time, for up to 30 days and nights. Extended wear lenses are designed to allow the eye to breathe even during sleep; they will require a consistent cleaning routine, as longer wear will lead to more deposit buildup and a higher chance of infection. It is also recommended to remove them periodically and allow the eyes to rest.
An alternative to the soft lens is the rigid gas permeable lens, or RGP. Made from silicone polymers, these lenses are more durable than soft lenses while offering sharper optics. They are also an option for more advanced vision complications. With proper maintenance, RGPs can last a considerable amount of time, up to two or three years. Because of their structure, they can take a few days or even a couple of weeks to adjust to wearing, and may need to be worn every day to maintain comfort. They are also available in an extended wear option.
There are even more specialized types of lenses for those with more specific needs. Bifocal lenses combine both distance and near prescriptions in one lens, and can be prescribed for presbyopia. Monovision lenses provide a distance prescription in one eye and a near prescription in the other. Toric lenses are prescribed for astigmatism and correct both the astigmatism and either near or farsightedness in one lens. All three of these lenses are available in either soft lens or RGP forms. Hybrid lenses are a more comfortable alternative to RGPs. Designed with a rigid center and a soft outer ring, they are designed for those who have trouble adjusting to daily RGP wear.
Now that you have a better idea of your contact options, you should understand how to best take care of them. You should always adhere to the cleaning ritual outlined by your doctor, but here are some general guidelines you should always follow.
- Always, always, ALWAYS wash your hands! The first step in ensuring eye health and contact cleanliness is to make sure your hands are clean. Contacts will pick up everything you have on your fingers, particularly soft lenses which are thin and very absorbent. This should always be your first step.
- Don’t over-wear your lenses. Only wear your lenses for the duration specified by your doctor. Over-wear can lead to serious long-term vision problems and may disqualify you from being a contact lens candidate in the future. Making sure you remove your contacts regularly allows your eyes to rest and ensures that you will keep up healthy contact cleaning habits.
- Only use cleaning solution prescribed for your lenses. Because of the wide range of lenses, there are many types of cleaning solution. Straying from your specified brand may affect the condition of your lenses.
- Make sure to clean your lenses case, and replace it regularly, about every 3 months.
- Water is not cleaning solution and shouldn’t be used as such. Tap and even distilled water carries countless types of bacteria that should not be introduced to your eyes.
- Visit your doctor regularly to ensure things are going smoothly, and definitely at any sign of irritation, redness, or infection.
- Lastly, don’t share lenses! There is never a situation in which you should wear anyone else’s lenses. Bacteria can spread easily this way.
Now that you’re armed with plenty of information, speak to your doctor about which lenses are right for you!
So Your Teenager Wants Contact Lenses…Now What? Perhaps your teenaged son has grown tired of always wearing his glasses. Maybe your daughter wonders what she would look like if she didn’t feel burdened by frames. Or, perhaps she just joined the soccer team and finds glasses are a burden on the field. These are […]
So Your Teenager Wants Contact Lenses…Now What?
Perhaps your teenaged son has grown tired of always wearing his glasses. Maybe your daughter wonders what she would look like if she didn’t feel burdened by frames. Or, perhaps she just joined the soccer team and finds glasses are a burden on the field. These are just a few of the reasons why your teenager might be interested in contacts. But before you embark on the journey to frameless vision, here are some very important things to consider.
Contact lenses have proven to be a relatively easy and convenient way to improve vision. With improved technology, contacts are more comfortable than ever and come in various designs to improve most impairment, including astigmatism. They also offer unobstructed vision, something no pair of glasses can offer. Particularly for teenagers, contacts can offer freedoms that glasses can’t. They can make the classroom a more productive learning environment by eliminating discomfort from wearing glasses all day. They can ease some of the awkwardness many teenagers feel about their appearance, and in turn may boost self-esteem. And contacts are usually much more convenient for teens who play sports, as glasses can be an obstacle, if not dangerous in such situations. For these reasons, contacts offer many benefits and are an appealing option.
The benefits of contacts are countered by a few setbacks. While they offer a considerable amount of freedom, they also come with a lot of responsibility. Though contacts are designed in varying “wear times,” i.e. daily disposables and weekly extended wear lenses, they all require consistent commitment and care. This is an issue for teens in particular because they are much more likely to cut corners or completely disregard specified care instructions. For example, in the case of late night studying, teenagers are likely to sleep in their contacts, or they may feel that skipping steps in cleaning once in a while won’t be harmful. They are also less likely to bring up issues they may have with their contacts, such as discomfort, irritation, redness, or infection. While a teenager may feel these things are not a big deal, improper contact wear and care can lead to serious vision problems later in life.
If you and your teenager are considering contacts, here are some helpful tips to make the process easier and to ensure that proper care will be taken.
- Before setting up an appointment, make sure you have a thorough discussion about the responsibility involved. Consider a trial period during which you and your teen can assess whether he or she is ready for the commitment of contacts. Agree upon working together to ensure success.
- Make sure to set up follow-up appointments as well, so that should there be any issues they will be checked in a timely manner.
- Ask your doctor if daily disposables are a viable option—this eliminates the need for cleaning, reduces the risk of infection, and simplifies the contact wearing experience. Some lenses are designed for extended wear, but only your doctor can determine if you are an appropriate candidate.
- Remember—and remind your teen—that contacts are considered a medical device by the FDA and as such should be taken seriously. Even nonprescription color lenses are considered medical and are not just an accessory.
- Backup glasses are always recommended; consider discussing part-time wear with your teen to reduce the chances of over-wear. Propose that contacts be worn only for specific occasions, such as sports practices and games, or certain social engagements. This can also be considered a trial period to assess your child’s responsibility.
- There are other helpful ways to ensure proper care. Setting an alarm for the same time every day, for example, can help maintain consistency in cleaning contacts on a regular basis. Keeping a clearly marked calendar in plain view will help keep track of upcoming eye exams and appointments.
When cared for properly, contacts can be a great asset for your teenager. Discussing your options with your teenager and his or her optometrist will ensure that the contact experience is a positive and beneficial one.
By now, we’ve all heard about the importance and the many benefits of healthy eating habits. But you may not have heard that eating well can prevent future vision problems. Specifically, the foods you eat could be making you more susceptible to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the American Optometric Association, […]
By now, we’ve all heard about the importance and the many benefits of healthy eating habits. But you may not have heard that eating well can prevent future vision problems. Specifically, the foods you eat could be making you more susceptible to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to the American Optometric Association, an estimated 43 million Americans suffer from AMD or cataracts, and that about 30 million (that’s one out of four!) Americans age 40 and up suffer from some degree of vision loss. While AMD is irreversible, and cataract surgery quite expensive, eating well can be an easy and cheap solution. Research has indicated that there is indeed a strong correlation between our eating habits and vision health, so let’s examine the ways we’re feeding our eyes.
You probably know by now that certain foods aren’t great for your health. Fried foods are some of the worst and should be at the top of your list of things to avoid, or at least consumed very sparingly. A diet high in animal fat is a risk factor for eye disease. Refined carbohydrates have also been linked to AMD. These include white breads and anything else made with white flour.
You may be shaking your head right now. “Well then, what CAN I eat?” Not to worry! Dr. Oz has plenty of healthy substitutions to fill your plate. Fish like salmon and sardines are great alternatives to red meat and contain lots of healthy Omega-3s. Tuna is also a good switch, but should be consumed carefully as higher levels of mercury can be harmful to your health. Lean meats like turkey and chicken are a great source of zinc. Vegetables are incredibly important–and lots of them! Remember how carrots are good for your eyes? They’re loaded with beta-carotene, and so are other orange foods like sweet potatoes. You can also find beta carotene in leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, and turnip greens. Lastly, vitamins C and E are important to our eyes as well. Invest in some broccoli, avocado, orBrussels’ sprouts, and snack on fruits and nuts throughout the day to keep your eyes in tip-top shape.
Of course, there are other factors at play when it comes to the health of our eyes. Excessive sun exposure, smoking, and diabetes all affect our eye function, so working to avoid or keep these factors in check will also help maintain great eye health. Taking small, simple steps toward eating better is an easy way to ensure your vision has a long and healthy life.
Sources: Review of Optometry, Dr. Oz, the AOA
So, it may not be something you can stop, but road glare at night isn’t something you should ignore. It’s happened to all of us – those few seconds ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic – when light from oncoming cars or roadside signs blinds us. We talked with an eyecare expert to find […]
So, it may not be something you can stop, but road glare at night isn’t something you should ignore. It’s happened to all of us – those few seconds ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic – when light from oncoming cars or roadside signs blinds us.
We talked with an eyecare expert to find out how to reduce the safety hazard nighttime road glare can pose.
“There’s no question that the glare from passing automobiles and other light sources poses a significant threat for many nighttime drivers,” says VSP network doctor Stephen Cohen, O.D. “Dealing effectively with glare at night isn’t just a matter of comfort. It’s a matter of personal safety, and there’s a lot of research available to show that highway glare can cause life-threatening accidents.
“For that reason, all of us should take the steps required to protect ourselves from this hazard.”
Whether your nighttime bright lights are in a big city or country roadside, there are things you can do about it. Here’s a rundown of Dr. Cohen’s safety recommendations:
- Always, always make sure you get a complete eye exam each and every year. And, when you do, talk to your doctor about overall vision issues, with nighttime glare especially in mind. Some eye conditions, like cataracts and being nearsighted, are more sensitive to glare. You’ll want to know if any vision problems you have could increase the impact nighttime lights could have on you – so you’re better prepared to handle driving in the dark.
- Be pro anti-reflective. When you opt for new glasses or lenses, choose anti-reflective coating, which may be covered by your eyecare plan or at least offered at a discount. The coating dramatically cuts down glare. In fact, says the Scottsdale, Ariz. doctor, “Today’s high-tech coatings can reduce glare 40- or 50-fold. And, you can easily obtain these low-glare lenses even if you don’t normally wear prescription glasses.”
- Respect your eyes. Don’t forget the work your eyes have done all day. Whether sitting in front of a computer, reading or doing other close-up work, your eyes have put in a full day already and may be tired. Eye fatigue and strain add to road glare vulnerability. Says Dr. Cohen, “If you know your eyes are tired, be sure to drive extra carefully after dark.”
- Aim low. When driving at night and facing oncoming lights, make a habit of focusing more on the right, lower side of the roadway, not the centerline. This will help reduce the glare in your gaze.
- Question herbal claims. Popular herbal remedies, like bilberry extract, promise to improve night vision – but don’t put all your hopes on them. “Right now, we don’t have enough evidence to know for certain whether bilberry and other dietary supplements can significantly improve night vision,” says Dr. Cohen.
“The best protection from glare is to have your eyes examined annually and to arm yourself with anti-reflective glasses when appropriate.”
The Rwanda Campaign Our professional cyclist friends at Team Type 1 recently participated and finished a nine-day Tour of Rwanda. This race was special in that they had a greater mission than just racing. They brought 35,000 test strips and 350-plus glucose monitors to help children in Rwanda diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, donated by sponsors Sanofi Aventis, Abbott Diabetes and […]
Our professional cyclist friends at Team Type 1 recently participated and finished a nine-day Tour of Rwanda. This race was special in that they had a greater mission than just racing. They brought 35,000 test strips and 350-plus glucose monitors to help children in Rwanda diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, donated by sponsors Sanofi Aventis, Abbott Diabetes and of course VSP Vision Care. During their trip, the team also met with the health ministry and set out a plan to assist the Rwanda Diabetes Association for the next three years.
As for the race, the team finished together in Kigali after 1117 kilometers on the road and more than 13,000 meters of climbing.
Congratulations to Team Type 1 for completing the race and a special thank you for helping the diabetes community here in the U.S. and all over the world.
About Team Type 1 and VSP Vision Care
Team Type 1 is a group of athletes living with diabetes. The team includes professional race teams, a triathlon team and a development team. Team Type 1 strives to instill hope and inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes. VSP® Vision Care is proud to be their exclusive eyecare and eyewear provider.
Eye on Diabetes – In 2010, through its Eye on Diabetes campaign, VSP Vision Care teamed up with VSP network doctors, state optometric associations, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and charitable organizations in five states to provide outreach and education on the important link between eyecare and overall health. The campaign launched in Little Rock, […]
The campaign launched in Little Rock, AR, and continued to Topeka, KS; Austin, TX; Denver, CO; and Indianapolis, IN. Here’s a look at all the events starting with Little Rock, AR.
Computer Vision Syndrome July 28, 2010 6:41 AM Dr. Jennifer Ashton has the latest on a health problem that affects 70 percent of computer users. Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6720936n#ixzz18m6a0iIv
Computer Vision Syndrome
July 28, 2010 6:41 AM
Dr. Jennifer Ashton has the latest on a health problem that affects 70 percent of computer users.
Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6720936n#ixzz18m6a0iIv
In attempting to sum up the world in 2010, one word comes to mind: connected. Everywhere we go we carry devices that keep us connected to something important to us. Be it a sleek new tablet letting you share photos with the person helping load your groceries, or a smartphone making sure you don’t miss that […]
In attempting to sum up the world in 2010, one word comes to mind: connected. Everywhere we go we carry devices that keep us connected to something important to us. Be it a sleek new tablet letting you share photos with the person helping load your groceries, or a smartphone making sure you don’t miss that late night e-mail from a colleague; we are now constantly connected to the world around us, more than ever before.
We’ve become dependent on these digital devices to survive both professionally and personally, and with the holiday season now upon us and digital devices topping most of our gift wish lists, the amount of time we spend with these gadgets will only increase. Yet many of us forget to consider two devices we are naturally equipped with that keep us more connected to the world than anything else: our eyes. Consumers often don’t think about the impact digital devices might have on their vision, and it can be to the detriment of not just their health, but also productivity.
In an effort to help consumers keep their eye health in mind this winter while enjoying these amazing products, we’ve put together five tips for creating a vision-healthy environment for digital device usage.