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All About Vision

Nonprescription Sunglasses

Everyone should have a good pair of sunglasses. Whether you wear prescription eyeglasses or not, sunglasses are important for every age, race and gender. While sunglasses may be considered a must-have fashion accessory, even more importantly, they play a critical role in protecting your eyes from UV (ultraviolet) and other harmful radiation from the sun. They also shield your eyes from wind, dust and debris that could cause discomfort, dryness or damage.

Sunglasses should be worn in the winter as well as the summer and should be 100% UV blocking. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay a fortune for your shades. Even cheaper brands of sunglasses are made these days with full UV protection, so take the extra time to ensure you select ones that do offer full protection from the sun’s rays.

Frame Materials

Sunglass frames are made in a wide variety of materials from plastics and acetates, to wood and natural materials to metals, such as aluminum, steel or titanium. Before you select a pair of frames, think about your lifestyle and what type of material will be most suitable for you. If you live an active lifestyle, sturdy and durable frames are a must. If you have sensitive skin, look for a pair made with hypoallergenic material that is light and fits comfortably. Make sure you select a pair that fits well, looks good and properly blocks the sun to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable when you are wearing them.

Sunglasses Shapes

Sunglasses serve as a combination of function and fashion and therefore come in a plethora of shapes and styles. Sunglasses are often larger than eyeglasses to cover more surface area and prevent sunlight from entering around the lenses. While fashion sunglasses are made in all of the latest styles from aviator to cat eyes, round, square and oversized, sports sunglasses are generally more durable and broad, often in wraparound styles that prevent sunlight from entering from the sides as well. Wrap-around frames are a good option for athletes, fishermen and bikers that spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

Lenses

Lenses are the most important part of any pair of sunglasses. As mentioned above, all lenses should block 100% UV rays but beyond that there are many options for sunglass lenses. Polycarbonate or trivex lenses are impact-resistant to increase safety during sports and outdoor activities. Polarized lenses help to reduce glare and are particularly helpful during activities on or near the water such as boating, fishing or beaching. Anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings are also beneficial to maintain your best vision in a variety of conditions.

For the fashion conscious there are a number of colors and reflective coatings available for sunglass lenses. It’s best to choose the lenses that allow for the most accurate color vision with the least amount of distortion to ensure they don’t obstruct clear vision.

While it’s important to choose sunglasses that you like from a style and appearance perspective, it’s also important to pay attention to comfort and fit. Here are a few tips for purchasing sunglasses that fit well for maximum comfort and sun protection:

  1. Make sure the lenses completely cover your eyes and provide extra coverage above and to the sides.
  2. The frames shouldn’t pinch at your temples or the nosepiece and should be wide enough for your face.
  3. Ensure that the frames aren’t too wide and stay in place when you move your head around.

Sunglasses for Prescription Eyeglass Users

If you wear prescription eyeglasses there are a number of options for sun protection. These options include prescription sunglasses, photochromic lenses (which turn from clear lenses to dark when you go outside), clip-ons, fitovers (which are sunglasses that go over your prescription eyewear) or wearing contact lenses with plano (non-prescription) sunglasses. Speak to your optician to determine the best option for you.

How to Cope with Low Vision

adjusting the lighting can help with low vision

Reduced vision is defined as vision that can not be corrected completely using either contact lenses, eyeglasses, or surgery, and is blurry (at the level of at least 20/70), or limited in its view field. Low vision is sometimes caused by injury to the eye or brain, and it can be inherited. However the main cause of low vision is eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

If you have low vision you have some sight. However completing normal activities, including driving and reading, can be hard or even impossible.

Low vision is a condition that the elderly suffer from, although it is possible for children and middle-aged patients to have low vision. After a life of seeing normally, losing your vision can be hard, or even traumatic, and can potentially lead to frustration, or even depression.

Low Vision, Working and Independence

What is especially hard about low vision is that many people are unable to work, and lose their existing jobs. In 2010 the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey showed that the employment rate for Americans with low vision was 24 percent.

If you have low vision, you probably feel disconnected from the rest of the world. With low vision, it’s hard to read, see images on television or a computer screen, and impossible to drive. You may not be able to be independant and run your own errands, shop for food, or visit friends and family. Sometimes people with a vision impairment suffer with this burden alone, while others must rely completely on friends and relatives on a daily basis.

There are many devices and ways to manage low vision, which can help people suffering with low vision to continue leading productive and independent lives. Some of the devices that can help make the most out of remaining vision are magnifiers, both handheld and mounted on eyeglasses, and telescopes.

Symptoms of Low Vision

Signs that it is time to see an eye doctor include loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, night blindness, needing more light to see, spots or floaters, and reading difficulty. This symptoms could indicate that a cataract is beginning in your eye. Or these problems could be signs of an eye condition such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, or macular degeneration. Make sure to see your eye doctor before any eye condition becomes so serious that vision loss occurs.

If it’s not possible to correct your vision loss with surgery, medical treatment, or eyewear, your eye doctor will send you to a specialist in low vision care. A low vision specialist, who is usually an optometrist, will evaluate your vision loss. Once he or she determines the type and degree of vision loss you are suffering from, this specialist can create a treatment plan including low vision aids, and guidance in using devices that help you to live with vision loss.

Additionally, a low vision specialist has knowledge of many different types of aids for low vision, including large-print and audio books, specially-designed lights, and signature guides that are used to sign checks and other documents. Sometimes eye care professionals that are treating vision loss recommend counseling to help their patients learn to live with the changes that low vision brings.

Low Vision Aids for Computer Users

Concerned Business Man at Desk with Computer

Low vision is a condition, often caused by a number of eye diseases which damage parts of the eye, in which individuals have significantly reduced vision. Individuals with low vision have some sight, but usually it is not sufficient to get by in daily life without some assistance. Often they are not able to read, drive, cook or work on a computer without a visual aid. Today there are many low vision aids available on the market to help those with low vision to function independently in performing daily tasks.

Computer use is one activity that often requires assistance and the good news is the technology to aid computer users with low vision is always improving.

Here are some devices and programs on the market to help:

Text Magnifying:

There are a number of ways to enlarge the text on your computer screen in addition to handheld magnifiers.

Via Your Computer Operating System: Both newer generation Windows and Mac operating systems have screen magnifiers built in. These do not have as many capabilities as purchased screen reader programs but for many with mild low vision, they may be sufficient.

Via Browser: When using the Internet most browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer) allow you to change the size of the page or text on the screen to suit your needs. To enlarge the text on a PC simply hold down the Control (“Ctrl”) key on your keyboard and either tap the “+” key or roll the wheel on your mouse. To reduce the size tap the “-” key or turn the mouse wheel in the opposite direction. On a MAC, you press command and shift at the same time along with the “+” or “-” keys.

Additionally, the browser might have a drop down option under the “view” tab that allows you to Zoom the screen in or out or make the text larger or smaller. Keep in mind that if you are using a larger higher quality screen, this will enable you to see bigger and more clearly as well.

Screen magnification programs: there are a number of free and paid software programs that will enlarge the text, picture and images on your computer screen.

Screen Readers and Text to Speech Programs:

There are a number of programs that enable you to “read” what is on the computer without needing to see it – these are designed for people that are totally blind as well. These programs work by scanning the text and icons on a page and converting it to speech which is read aloud. Some of these programs also have a cursor on the page that moves along with the voice.

Up to date Microsoft and Apple operating systems do have simple, built in screen readers but they may be limited. The Chrome browser and Android devices do as well. Nevertheless depending on your abilities, you may prefer to purchase a program with more comprehensive options and usability.

If you are looking for something simpler, text-to-speech programs exist in which you select a portion of the text you want to read and the program reads it for you.

Screen Contrast

Adjusting your screen to the highest contrast will enable the letters and images on the monitor to stand out. Font should be adjusted to achieve a dark text on a light background. Further it is advisable to reduce glare as much as possible. This may require adjusting window shades and indoor lights or even purchasing an anti-glare screen to reduce glare that can’t be eliminated.

Hardware

You can purchase special keyboards, mice and monitor magnifiers made specifically to enhance usability for those with low vision. Purchasing a large LCD screen for your monitor will also help to enhance visibility.
Computers can be a window to open our world to information, connections, work and play. Individuals with low vision can access all of this as well with the assistance of specialized software, devices and programs using the strengths and senses that they do possess.

Ask your eye doctor for more information about how we can help.

Eyeglass Frames

Are you in the market or mood for a new pair of eyeglasses? The selection is vast, with many fashionable, attractive pairs of glasses to browse through. How can you narrow down your options and choose the style of frames that are best for you?

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Eyewear

  1. What’s my taste? Do I prefer a bold or subtle expression? Do I favor modern lines, a retro look or more conservative, classic styles?
  2. Where do I plan to wear these frames- at work, in the backyard, or for social outings?
  3. What colors work best with my skin and hair tones?
  4. What are the primary colors in my wardrobe?
  5. What’s the shape of my face?
  6. Do I like my current eyeglasses? If not, then what’s the problem?

Bring this information to your optician when you pay a visit to the eyeglass store, and most of the work will already be done! Your optician, who is highly skilled and an expert in fitting your eyewear will be able to hone in quickly on the eyeglasses that are most suitable.

How to Judge Fit and Comfort

Research conducted by the eyewear industry indicates that women pay more attention to how eyeglasses appear on their face, while men are more interested in how they feel and fit. Yet even if looks are your primary concern, if your eyeglasses aren’t comfortable – you won’t be pleased for long.

To judge the fit of frames when trying them on:

  • Frames should be wide enough for your face and not too snug on sides of your head. The edges of your eyeglasses should extend beyond the sides of your face. This ensures that the temples won’t press in on your head as they rest on your ears.
  • The curves at the end of each temple should go past your ear without pushing down on it. If they don’t, then the temples aren’t long enough.
  • The built-in nose piece or silicone nose pads should fit comfortably and firmly, without pinching the bridge of your nose. Silicone nose pads can generally be adjusted.
  • Your glasses should be able to stay in place when you move your head to and fro. Nod a few times, turn your head right and left, and bend over to touch the floor. Make sure that your glasses don’t slip off.

Is One Pair of Eyeglasses Enough?

Take a look at your closet. You likely own more than one pair of shoes, right? Unless you’re on a very tight budget, more than one pair of eyeglasses isn’t a luxury. Eyewear is a hip accessory, and the same pair may not be appropriate for all parts of your modern lifestyle. Just like your clothing, your eyeglass needs differ for home, work and social occasions.

If owning a solitary pair is enough for you, then choose frames that you love and feel good about no matter what you’re wearing or where you go. These eyeglasses will be on your face constantly, so take your time and pick a style that fits your unique personality and vision requirements.

Lens Options for Eyeglasses

If you thought the trickiest part of choosing a new pair of glasses was the frame selection, think again. You should be putting just as much thought and consideration into the lenses that you select for your new specs.

Here’s why: The quality and type of lenses in your eyeglasses will not only correct your visual acuity, but they will allow you to continue to see your best through various conditions. Whether it is keeping the lenses free from scratches, fog, glare or UV rays, or making them stronger or more attractive, your eyeglass lenses can help to keep your eyes safe and comfortable wherever the day (or night) takes you.

Lens Coatings

Here are a variety of coatings that you can apply to your lenses to maintain optimal vision and comfort and to protect your lenses and your eyes.

Anti-reflective/Anti-glare Coatings

Anti-reflective (AR) also known as anti-glare coatings help reduce the reflections and glare on your lenses, improving your vision and comfort in high-glare environments, and the look of your glasses as well (you can see your eyes clearly without a reflection on the front of the lens). Reflections from the sun, television and computer screens and bright lights (especially when driving at night) can cause eye strain, headaches and difficulty seeing. AR coatings and lenses can reduce this effect, improving your vision quality and comfort in these circumstances.

Scratch Resistant Coatings

Scratches not only affect the smooth look of the surface of your glasses but they can disrupt your vision. A scratch-resistant coating adds an extra layer of protection on the surface of the lens to significantly reduce scratching. This coating is particularly great for kids who may tend to be a little more rough with their eyewear.

Ultraviolet Coatings

Ultraviolet (UV) coatings protect your eyes from harmful UV rays from the sun. This coating can turn standard lenses into UV blocking lenses that can block 100% of the UV light from entering your eyes. UV is linked to the development of a number of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal damage.

Anti-fog Coatings

Particularly if you live in a cold climate, you may have experienced walking indoors from the cold and having your glasses lenses fog up completely. This can take a few minutes to resolve and can be dangerous if you are driving or need to see clearly. Anti-fog coatings will eliminate this effect, creating a smooth transition from cold to hot environments.

Lens Options

You may want to go with an upgraded lens to improve the look, strength or functionality of your glasses.

High Index Lenses

High index lenses have a higher refractive index which means they reflect more light than standard prescription lenses. What this means for you, the consumer, is that they can be made thinner and lighter than traditional lenses. High index lenses are particularly popular with those that need a high prescription as they are able to avoid thick lenses, adding comfort and a smoother look, but a higher price tag.

Trivex or Polycarbonate Lenses

Trivex or polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant lenses – a fantastic choice for sports and safety eyewear as well as standard sunglasses and eyeglasses for active types or kids. These lenses also offer full UV protection and are lightweight for optimal comfort.

Polychromatic Lenses

Polychromatic lenses are made with special technology that turns them into sunglasses when exposed to sunlight. The lenses darken automatically when you go outside and return to normal when you go back indoors. Polychromatic lenses can come in a number of tint colors and are great when you need prescription sunglasses but don’t want to carry around or pay for another pair.

Aspheric Lenses

Aspheric lenses use advanced technology to create a slimmer, flatter and lighter lens than standard prescription lenses. While aspheric lenses can improve the appearance of any prescription lens, they are especially beneficial for those who are farsighted since those lenses tend to bulge out in the middle.

So the next time you are in the market for new eyeglasses, speak to your optometrist or optician about the best lens choices for your eyes, your vision and your lifestyle.

Contact Lens Basics

If you need vision correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, contact lenses are a popular and effective option. In the United States, approximately 20% of the population who requires vision correction wears contact lenses. Currently dating back more than 125 years, contacts are presently available in a wide variety of materials and types. As opposed to the situation years ago, nowadays almost everyone can wear contact lenses.

Eyeglasses may be an attractive way to accessorize your outfit and make a fashion statement, yet you may sometimes prefer your appearance without glasses. Contact lenses allow you to have sharp vision without eyeglasses or costly vision surgery. Another benefit of contacts is that they grant a wider field of vision than glasses. This is a major advantage when it comes to playing sports or engaging in hobbies and professions such as photography.

If you are considering wearing contact lenses, you’ll need to schedule an initial eye exam and contact lens evaluation with your eye doctor. In the United States, contacts are regarded as medical devices that require a prescription by an eye care professional (ECP). In order to determine the best lenses for you, your ECP will assess your visual condition, structure of your eye and natural tear production.

Contact lenses are categorized depending upon the following factors:

  1. Material composition
  2. How long they can be worn before you have to take them out
  3. Life span- how long they can be used before you have to toss them and grab a new pair
  4. Design of the lenses

Material Composition of Contact Lenses

There are four different types of contact lens materials:

Soft Lenses

Over 90% of contact lenses on the market today are classified as soft lenses. These ultra-comfortable, thin contacts are constructed from gel-like plastics that contain a high percentage of water. They cover the entire cornea of your eye (clear front surface) and it is typically easy to adapt to wearing them.

First introduced in 1971, soft lenses used to be made from hydrogel materials. At present, silicone hydrogel is the most widespread, popular version. They permit a higher quantity of oxygen to reach the eye, which is healthy and comfortable.

Hard, Gas Permeable Lenses

Also called GP or RGP (rigid gas permeable) lenses, these contacts are smaller and made from plastics that have no water. They often provide the advantage of more acute vision, yet it generally takes longer to adapt to wearing them.

Hybrid Lenses

The center zone of these lenses is made from rigid gas permeable lenses, and a soft lens material encircles the border. Hybrid lenses thereby provide the best of both worlds – sharp vision from the center and a soft, comfortable border.

Wearing Time for Contact Lenses

The two primary kinds of contact lenses are daily wear and extended wear. Daily wear lenses must be removed on a nightly basis, and extended wear lenses may be worn up to seven days; a few brands of extended wear lenses are approved by the FDA for monthly wear (also known as “continuous wear” lenses). Extended wear lenses are very convenient even if you always remove them before going to sleep, as they are safe and comfortable for napping. Don’t sleep in your lenses unless you’ve discussed this with your doctor, since improper wear times can lead to corneal damage.

Life Span for Contact Lenses

All contact lenses must be discarded after a specified amount of time, even if you care for them well and properly. Soft contact lenses in particular accumulate lens deposits and contamination, which raises your risk of eye infections.

  • Daily disposable lenses: the most convenient and healthiest option, these lenses are replaced after one day of wear
  • Overnight disposable lenses (kept in your eyes overnight): must be replaced after one week
  • Monthly wear lenses: these are discarded after wearing for 30 days.
  • Gas permeable contact lenses: these are more resistant to lens deposits and can last up to a year or in many cases even longer with excellent care.

Designs for Contact Lenses

Contact lenses vary depending upon the type of vision correction that is required. The most common design is spherical, which works for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Toric lenses, which come in both soft and GP versions, possess multiple lens powers to correct astigmatism. Bifocal and multifocal lenses utilize a number of zones for different viewing needs, such as near, intermediate and far vision. They are often a good option for presbyopia. Orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses are designed to reshape the cornea overnight, which corrects daytime vision without a need for eyeglasses or lenses.

Additional Features of Contact Lenses

Colored contacts: Lenses can be worn in color tints that enhance the natural color of your eyes or change your eye color totally. Blue eyes can be made more vibrant, or brown eyes can be altered to green.

Special-effect contacts: These lenses offer an extreme change to the color of your eyes and are generally used for costumes or theatrical effects. You can look like a zombie, an animal, or whatever you envision!

Prosthetic contacts: Disfigurations caused by disease or accidents can be masked by these colored contact lenses. With a medical orientation, prosthetic lenses are generally used to match the appearance of both eyes.

Contact Lenses that are Right for You

To identify the lenses that are ideal for your needs, you must first have a complete eye examination and contact lens evaluation performed by your eye doctor. Your ocular health will be inspected and detailed measurements of your eyes will be taken. Trial lenses will be inserted to check for the best possible and most comfortable fit and vision

After your initial fitting, follow-up visits for contact lenses are important. Your eye doctor will check that the fit is right and that no complications are developing. Your tolerance to contact lenses will be assessed. Sometimes a change in the fit or type of lens is necessary.

Your contact lens prescription will be issued after the fitting process is complete.

Proper Care and Handling of Contact Lenses

It is relatively simple to care for contact lenses. A single, multi-purpose lens solution is generally all that’s required for cleaning, disinfecting and storing your lenses. With daily disposables, routine care is totally eliminated and you can enjoy the feeling of a brand new fresh clean lens every day.

Your eye doctor or contact lens technician will instruct you how to take care of your contact lenses before you leave the office.

Worker Productivity and Computer Vision Syndrome

Since 43% of adults work at jobs that require prolonged use of a computer, tablet or other digital devices, computer vision syndrome (CVS) and blue light exposure are becoming increasingly serious threats to our vision, health and productivity.

Computer Vision Syndrome in the Workplace
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain, is an increasingly common condition felt by those that spend two or more hours daily in front of a screen. Symptoms can include blurred vision, eye strain and fatigue, headaches, dry, red, irritated eyes, neck and back pain and headaches. Typically the symptoms of CVS are not permanent, however they can have an impact on comfort, productivity and one’s ability to focus. In rare cases, CVS can even be debilitating.

Studies show that symptoms of computer vision syndrome have become the most common workplace complaint or injury among workers with 50-90% of computer users reporting symptoms to some degree. These symptoms have been shown to have an impact on worker productivity.

The Effects of CVS on Productivity
In a study which looked at the correlation between computer vision and workplace productivity performed at the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham correlations were found between proper vision correction and overall productivity as well as the time it takes for a worker to complete a task. Even minor and unnoticeable vision problems were shown to affect productivity by up to 20% and to cause an increase in mistakes.

Blue Light Exposure
Blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) radiation exposure is another effect of extended digital device use. Excessive blue light exposure has been linked to sleep cycle disturbance – which can have an overall negative impact on alertness and one’s ability to focus. Blue light may also cause long term damage to the retina. While studies are currently being done to determine the effects of blue light, it is clear that protecting your eyes from blue light is recommended for eye health.

Workspace Ergonomics and Computer Eyewear
From both the worker’s and the employer’s perspectives, an investment in a combination of workspace ergonomics and computer eyewear can benefit the workplace and overall productivity. Workers will be more productive and experience fewer visual and musculoskeletal symptoms that can cause discomfort and distraction. Employers will benefit from productivity gains and reduced worker’s compensation claims.

Computer Glasses

Digital devices have impacted our world in so many positive ways, allowing us to connect, work, play, and get information at the speed of light. In fact, many people have a hard time when they “disconnect.” But all of this good brings with it a measure of concern: Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of computers and digital devices. Adults aged 18 to 34 report feeling eye strain at a higher rate (45%) than their older counterparts. New research also suggests that overexposure to blue light, also referred to as high-energy visible or HEV light, may contribute to vision problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Implications are just now being studied, but the short-term impact of digital eye strain affects individuals on a daily basis. Eye care providers are noting a steady rise in the incidence of myopia as well, which research suggests could be correlated to the increase of screen time and near focusing.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sore eyes
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain

In addition to these symptoms, emerging research shows that blue light from digital devices causes sleep disturbances by interfering with the REM cycle of sleep.

As people move from their computer to their tablet to their phone, more and more of these symptoms are being seen, and in younger and younger people. Computer glasses offer a solution to reduce the strain on your eyes and your exposure to blue light radiation.

How Computer Glasses Work

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so that your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes.

Finding the Right Pair

There are a number of companies that make computer glasses, some that are designed for device users without a prescription or that would wear the glasses with contact lenses. Other manufacturers provide options to incorporate vision prescriptions into the lens.

When shopping for computer glasses you want to make sure you find the right pair. The eyewear should sit nicely on your face and provide a comfortable tint. Here are some of the options available:

  • Single Vision Computer Glasses: Provide the optimum lens power and field of view for viewing your computer screen without straining or leaning in to reduce symptoms of CVS. These are ideal for when the computer is at a fixed working distance, and work well if the user needs to view multiple screens at the same working distance.
  • Office Lenses or Progressive Lenses: No-line multifocal eyewear that can be made to correct near, intermediate and some distance vision with a larger intermediate zone for computer vision if indicated. Perfect for those with presbyopia which is the gradual loss of focusing ability that occurs naturally with age. Office lenses work like progressive lenses but provide a wider field of view for intermediate (1-3 m) viewing distance and near working distance (about 40 cm).
  • Blue-Blocking Lenses: Definitely recommended for this electronic age, blue-blocking lenses block blue light emitted from computer screens that is associated with glare, eye strain and possible sleep disturbances.
  • Anti-glare and filtering coatings (treatments): Eliminate reflections from the surfaces of your lens to reduce eye strain and discomfort from glare. Some coatings can also block blue light emitted from computer screens.

While all of these are good options for protecting your eyes, the 20/20/20 rule still applies – after every 20 minutes of near tasks, look at something beyond 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds…it’s a good time to stretch the rest of the body too.

Eye exams are important to test your focusing ability, and to ensure that both eyes are working and focusing at the same place. Many people do not have the same prescription in each eye.

Children and Computer Glasses

Children are using digital devices more than ever and this trend will only continue as smartphones take over and tablet and computer-based learning increases. Their use extends well beyond the school day , as they use computers for homework and gaming and smartphones to text with their friends.

Computer glasses should be used for children proactively before eye strain begins to keep their eyes healthy longer and prevent nearsightedness.

Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

The use of computers, tablets and other digital devices has become so commonplace in the daily lives of children that a report by The Vision Council in 2015 showed that close to 25% of children spend more than 3 hours a day using some sort of digital device. These numbers are only expected to grow. As these devices are becoming integrated into schools and becoming more common for use at a younger age, many experts and parents are wondering how the use of these devices can affect children’s eyes in the short and long term.

Computer Vision Syndrome (aka Digital Eye Strain)

Just like adults, children are susceptible to computer vision syndrome (CVS), also called digital eye strain, after extended use of computers or digital devices. Symptoms of CVS include eye fatigue and eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

Staring at a computer screen is a stress for the eyes, particularly for children whose eyes and visual system are less developed. This is because the computer-generated, pixelated images which appear on the screen are not what our eyes are accustomed to and therefore can cause the eye to strain after extended viewing. Some children find it uncomfortable to view screens for long periods because they simply don’t have the focusing power to spend extended amounts of time looking at these pixelated images.

Children don’t always have the self control to limit computer use or the awareness to know when they are experiencing eye fatigue or other symptoms of CVS. Because of this, they are more likely to overuse digital devices which can make symptoms worse.

Screen Use and Myopia

Myopia or nearsightedness is a growing concern as studies show the incidences of the condition are growing exponentially. In the past it was thought that myopia was primarily genetic, however recent research indicates a correlation between environmental factors and the growing exposure to and use of digital devices, particularly in children. As children increase their computer use and time spent on screen, the likelihood of developing myopia seems to also be increasing. According to a study done at the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry which researched the incidence of myopia in 253 children between 6 years old and 10 years old showed a link with the amount of time spent on a computer.

The Effects of Blue Light

Blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light is emitted from digital devices and is causing greater and greater concerns about long term exposure. It is already known that blue light can affect sleep and concentration but studies are also indicating that it can cause long term retinal damage, particularly in kids whose young eye have more sensitivity to environmental influences.

How to Protect Your Children from CVS

With the increasing use of and dependence upon digital devices it is important to teach your children good habits to protect their eyes while they are young. Understanding the risks and dangers of prolonged screen time should be taught at an early age. Here are some tips for safe computer and digital device use to reduce digital eye strain and prevent the negative effects it can have on your children’s eyes and vision.

  1. Limit Screen Time: When possible limit screen time to one or two hours a day, particularly for little children who don’t require computers for school work.
  2. Optimize Your Children’s Work Station: Ensure that children are positioned properly and that lighting is appropriate so that they do not have to bend or stretch in unnatural ways to see the screen adequately. The monitor should be slightly below the child’s eye line and about 18 – 28 inches away. The chair should also be adjusted so that the child’s arms comfortably rest on the desk and his or her feet touch the floor (when possible).
  3. Have Regular Eye Exams: Monitor your child’s eyesight, particularly an assessment of their near vision skills.
  4. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away.
  5. Get in the Habit of Stretching: At regular intervals stretch the back, arms, shoulders and neck to relieve tension and reduce strain or soreness.
  6. Consider Computer Glasses: Computer glasses are made to help the eyes focus more easily on the computer screen. If your child already wears prescription eyewear, prescription computer glasses are available as well.
  7. Anti-glare: Anti-glare screens or coatings on eyeglasses can reduce glare and eye strain.
  8. Look for signs of eye or vision problems such as blurred vision or eye rubbing, redness or a stiff neck. If you notice any lasting vision problems see your eye doctor for an examination.

Computer Eyestrain

Digital eye strain is an increasingly common condition as digital devices become more ingrained into our daily lives. Digital eye strain, eye fatigue and computer vision syndrome (CVS) are conditions that result from extended exposure to digital screens such as computers, smartphones, tablets and televisions from a combination of factors including the blue light radiation emitted from the devices and the pixelated content that is difficult for our eyes to focus on.

Symptoms of computer or digital eyestrain tend to be noticed after someone has used a digital device for as little as 2 hours a day. Studies show that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device and 70% of adults report some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) which include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain (caused by compromised posture to adjust to vision difficulty).

Digital eye strain also impacts your ability to focus and lessens productivity. Most people do nothing to ease their discomfort from these symptoms because they are not aware of the cause.

Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain and Blue Light

There are a number of options for reducing digital eye strain and your exposure to blue light which include workspace ergonomics, computer glasses, specialized lenses and protective coatings. The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam, making sure you speak to your eye doctor about how often you use a computer and digital device. This will help your doctor to get the full picture of your eye and vision needs in order to determine which option is best for you. It was also help the doctor to identify any underlying issues that could be worsening your symptoms.

Alleviating Digital EyeStrain

Workspace Alterations

Proper Lighting and Screen Brightness: You want the screen to be as bright as the surrounding environment or the brightest object in the room (depending on what is most comfortable for you). Therefore interior lighting or sunlight from the outdoors should be dimmed or blocked. Use fewer light fixtures or lower voltage light bulbs and close curtains or blinds when possible. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the levels that are most comfortable.

Reduce Glare: Glare is a significant cause of computer eyestrain so it is important to minimize it as much as possible. Set up your computer where glare from windows won’t affect your screen or cover windows when this is not possible. Glare can also reflect from walls and shiny finishes on desks and other surfaces. An anti-glare screen on your monitor or an anti-reflective (AR) or anti-glare coating applied to your eyewear can also help to minimize glare and the strain it causes to your vision.

Screen size and distance: You want to make sure you are using a high quality (such as a flat LCD) screen that has a relatively large display (look for a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches) and is located directly in front of your line of vision. Your viewing distance should be about an arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at about eye level or slightly below.

Eye Care

Keep Eyes Moist: When viewing a digital screen or monitor for an extended period of time, we tend to blink less frequently (about ⅓ as often as we should). Blinking however, is critical for keeping the eyes moist, which allows them to remain clear and comfortable and to avoid dry eyes, irritation, blurry vision or eye fatigue.

Focus on blinking by setting a timer for every 20 minutes and slowly closing and opening your eyes 10 times. Keep a bottle of artificial tears handy to use when your eyes are feeling dry.

Give Your Eyes a Break: Schedule and take frequent breaks from your screen. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Take this time to stand up and stretch your back, neck and legs as well.

Computer Eyewear

Computer glasses reduce eye strain by adjusting the focus slightly so your eyes feel like they are focusing on something further away. They also have a tint to remove the glare and block blue light from entering into your eyes. There are a number of options for computer eyewear, both if you need prescription eyewear and not. Speak to your eye doctor about what the best options are for you.
Learn more about computer glasses here.

It is important to know that both adults and children alike are susceptible to computer eye strain from computers and digital devices. With the growing use of such devices in our everyday lives it is important to start educating ourselves and our children on how to combat the negative effects of these habits.

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