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All Posts in Category: Lifestyle

Smartphone Blindness

A recent report of two women who temporarily lost sight in one eye after reading their smartphones while lying in bed shouldn’t cause alarm, experts say. But the incidents do point to the importance of using digital devices smartly to avoid eye strain.

The women lost vision for up to 20 minutes in one eye after reading their phones in the dark while lying in bed with the other eye covered by a pillow, researchers wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Gordon Plant of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London told the Associated Press that the eye reading the phone was adapted to the light, while the covered eye was adapted to the dark. When the women put their phone down, they couldn’t see with their reading eye. “It’s taking many minutes to catch up to the other eye that’s adapted to the dark,” Plant said. People should look at their phones with both eyes, he advised.

The researchers called the condition “transient smartphone blindness.” They said that it is likely to become more common, because phone manufacturers are making brighter screens for easier reading.

Dr. Rahul Khurana, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told Today he doesn’t consider this a serious problem. He noted it is not an official medical condition, and needs more study.

But there are steps you should take to protect your eyes when reading your phone. Staring at your phone can make your eyes feel dry and tired. You may develop fatigue, blurry vision or eye strain. That’s because people blink much less when using digital screen devices such as smartphones and computers.

When using a smartphone, computer or other digital device:

  • Use the “20-20-20” rule to avoid eye strain: Take a break every 20 minutes. Shift your eyes toward an object that’s at least 20 feet away. Look at the object for at least 20 seconds.
  • When your eyes feel dry, refresh them with artificial tears.
  • To make it easier for your eyes to see, adjust the lighting in your room so your screen is not much brighter than the surrounding light. Also try increasing the contrast on your screen.

(From the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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The Sun, UV Radiation, and Your Eyes

With the intensity of the sun increasing during the summer months, we advise all our Saipan eye clinic patients to take extra protection.  We’re happy to share this article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

 

Eye specialists caution us that too much exposure to UV light raises the risks of eye diseases, including cataract, growths on the eye, and cancer. Strong exposure to snow reflection can also quickly cause painful damage called snow blindness.

Growths on the eye, such as pterygium, can show up in our teens or twenties, especially in surfers, skiers, fishermen, farmers, or anyone who spends long hours under the mid-day sun or in the UV-intense conditions found near rivers, oceans, and mountains.

Diseases like cataract and eye cancers can take many years to develop, but each time we’re out in the sun without protection we could be adding damage that adds to our risks for these serious disorders. Babies and kids need to wear hats and sunglasses for this very reason. People of all ages should take precautions whenever they are outdoors.

Follow these tips to protect your eyes from the sun all year long:

  • Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime, so be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats whenever you’re outside.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: the sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds.
  • Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during aneclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, which is damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
  • Don’t forget the kids and older family members: everyone is at risk, including children and senior citizens. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses.
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Can Computers Hurt Your Eyes?

Staring at your computer screen, smartphone, video game or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage, but your eyes may feel dry and tired. Some people also experience headaches or motion sickness when viewing 3-D, which may indicate that the viewer has a problem with focusing or depth perception.

What causes computer-use eyestrain?

  • Normally, humans blink about 18 times a minute, but studies show we blink half that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play.
  • Extended reading, writing or other intensive “near work” can also cause eyestrain.

What to do:

  • Sit about 25 inches from the computer screen and position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
  • Reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly; use a screen filter if needed.
  • Post a note that says “Blink!” on the computer as a reminder.
  • Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds: the “20-20-20” rule.
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
  • Take regular breaks from computer work, and try to get enough sleep at night.
  • If problems continue, it could be something more serious. Come to Marianas Eye Institute to  see our Saipan optometrist, Dr. Mark Robertson, who can help you.

(Information from the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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Smoking and Eye Health

Avoiding smoking and second hand smoke—or quitting if you are a smoker—are some of the best investments you can make in your long-term eye health.

Smoking – even in your teens or twenties when your senior years seem far away – increases your future risks for cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). And the more a person smokes, the higher the risks. The good news is that after people quit smoking, their risks for these eye diseases becomes almost as low as for people who never smoked.

Smoking also raises the risks for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence your eyes’ health. And tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is an irritant that worsens dry eye, a very uncomfortable eye condition that is most common in women after menopause.

Smoking increases the risk of serious vision loss in people with other eye diseases. And when women smoke during pregnancy they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity as well as other health problems.

The American Cancer Society has resources to help people who want to quit: www.cancer.org

(From the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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Eye Injury Facts & Myths

  • Men are more likely to sustain an eye injury than women.
  • Most people believe that eye injuries are most common on the job — especially in the course of work at factories and construction sites. But, in fact, nearly half (44.7 percent) of all eye injuries occurred in the home, as reported during the fifth-annual Eye Injury Snapshot (conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma).
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot were caused by projects and activities such as home repairs, yard work, cleaning and cooking. More than a third (34.2 percent) of injuries in the home occurred in living areas such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living or family room.
  • More than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities.
  • Eyes can be damaged by sun exposure, not just chemicals, dust or objects.
  • Among all eye injuries reported in the Eye Injury Snapshot, more than 78 percent of people were not wearing eyewear at the time of injury. Of those reported to be wearing eyewear of some sort at the time of injury (including glasses or contact lenses), only 5.3 percent were wearing safety or sports glasses. (From the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

The key to preventing eye injuries is to wear eye protection (safety glasses).  If you have an eye injury, come in immediately.

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