Eye Strain And Electronic Devices

Eye StrainAre you protecting your eyes from unnecessary eye strain when using electronic devices? All those screens everywhere can quickly wear out your eyes!

We can’t avoid all the computers, smartphones and TVs in our lives, but we can protect our eyes from their harm. While no research has shown that screens can cause true damage to the eyes, you’re still at risk for painful headaches and eye soreness if you don’t take a few simple steps to keep your eyes happy.

Three Ways To Prevent Eye Strain When Staring At Screens:

1 – Remember To Blink

No, this is not a joke. People tend to blink less often when staring at electronic screens, which of course leads to dry eyes and eye pain. If you have to use screens frequently in your daily life, consider keeping some eye drops around to help your eyes stay hydrated.

2 – Take Frequent Breaks

To prevent unnecessary eye strain, you should ideally take a five minute break for every hour spent staring at a screen. For best results, close your eyes for that time so they can get a little rest. The break time should be doubled if you are using a 3D screen, as with some TVs or the Nintendo 3DS. These screens require your eyes to move their focus in and out as well as side-to-side, wearing out your eyes even faster.

3 – Use A Higher-Resolution Screen

If you’re using a smartphone or tablet from a few years ago, it may contribute to eye strain problems. Newer displays such as the Apple Retina or Samsung’s AMOLED, where the user cannot see the individual pixels (onscreen dots), are easier for your eyes to focus on.

Don’t Forget Yearly Eye Exams!

If you spend a lot of time staring at screens, it’s important to remember your yearly eye exam. Undiagnosed vision problems can quickly lead to extra eye strain and pain when working with electronic devices.

If it’s been more than a year since your last checkup, contact your Phoenix eye doctor for a vision test!

Do Cheap Reading Glasses Cause Eye Damage?

Eye ExamYou can find them just about anywhere these days: cheap reading glasses, sometimes for as little as a dollar each. They may be a cheaper alternative, but are they really an adequate substitute for a proper eye exam and prescription lenses?

Not really.

While claims that these cheap glasses can permanently damage your eyesight are overblown, they’re still not a good solution. Their overall poor quality can cause headaches or more vision trouble while wearing them.

Problems With Cheap Reading Glasses

1 – They’re “One Size Fits All”

Is your head the exact same shape and size as everyone else? Of course not. Everyone is built differently, and even minor differences (such as the width of your eyes) can drastically affect how well the lenses work. You might get lucky and find a pair that just happen to fit your head well, but a real optometrist can guarantee a proper fit.

2 – They’re Rarely Well-Made

Dollar-store lenses have very poor quality control. In repeated surveys they’ve shown to have significant differences from well made prescriptions. The strengths may be different, or they have different focal points. These can cause blurry vision, double vision and eye strain headaches. Even worse, such subtle differences are almost impossible to detect while in the store.

A proper eye exam guarantees lenses that exactly match your vision needs.

3 – They Only Magnify

Cheap glasses cannot correct for any vision problems besides those that can be solved with magnification. They cannot fix astigmatism, myopia or other common problems which can be corrected with prescription lenses.

Dollar Store Glasses Are Rarely Worth It

Cheap reading glasses are only good as an alternative backup pair, which are only used for short periods of time. If you just need to throw on a pair to read a label,that’s fine, but they are very likely to cause problems with more extensive use.

If you need reading glasses, it’s much better to get a proper eye exam.  It ensures you get lenses that best fit your face, and provide the exact vision correction you need! Contact your eye doctor today.

How To Take Care Of Your Eyeglasses

Eye CareProper eye care goes beyond just your eyes. If you wear glasses it’s very important to take the best possible care of your lenses. Broken or damaged glasses might not hurt your vision in the long-term, but they can interfere with your vision as well as cause painful headaches.

Good Eyeglasses Care Is Good Eye Care

1 – Keep them in a case.

It’s tempting to just throw your glasses onto a side table at night, but that’s asking for accidents to happen. Keeping them in a solid case when not in use will protect against most everyday damage and accidents.

2 – Only use soft cloths to wipe them.

Different kinds of lenses have varying scratch-resistance, but the easiest way to accidentally scratch them is by “cleaning” with improper materials. Cotton and other rough fabrics will put tiny scratches in the lenses that, over time, build up to create constant refractions, or “lens flair” effects.

These can make the glasses distracting to wear, as well as increase your chance of eye-strain headaches.

3 – Never wear broken lenses.

Avoid wearing broken lenses unless you truly have no other option. Besides impairing your vision, broken lenses have a much higher chance of breaking further. If this happens, they’re far more likely to cause eye damage with shards or slivers of glass or plastic.

4 – Occasionally clean with mild detergent and disinfectant. 

It’s not necessary to clean your glasses as often as contacts. However, over time they will build up dirt and grime (especially around the nosepiece and rims) and a layer of oil can form on the lenses. They’ll last longer and be more hygienic with a thorough wet cleaning about once a week.

5 – Wear Sports Goggles For Sports

Only true sports goggles are rated to protect your eyes against an impact to your corrective lenses. Both glasses and contacts increase your risk of eye injury from a hit to the face.

And, of course, don’t forget to update your prescription at least once a year! Contact your Phoenix eye doctor today for more eye care information.

Prevent Dry Eyes this Cold Season

Dry EyeDry eyes might not be a terribly debilitating condition on their own, but with cold season in full swing, they can lead to more severe problems.  People with dry eyes tend to rub them a lot, for one thing, which is unhygienic and encourages eye infections.

It’s best to do everything you can to keep your eyes well-hydrated from the outset, but it’s especially important when you have a cold.  Here are a few tips…

Keep Your Eyes Moist And Happy This Cold Season

1 – Approved Eye Drops

There are few better ways to combat dry eyes than with simple eye drops, available from virtually any pharmacy or convenience store.  However, only use fluids specifically designed to be put in your eyes – anything else may carry contaminants that do more harm than good.

2 – Air Humidifiers

During the Fall and Winter, a portable air humidifier will do a lot to keep some moisture in the air within your house, which in turn helps keep your eyes well-lubricated.  They’ll dry out more quickly in places with extremely low humidity.  (This is also true for doctor’s offices, airplanes, and other areas relying on recirculated air.)

3 – Lower Your Computer \ TV Screen

Here’s one you may not have known:  When your screen is above eye level, you open your eyes wider to see it.  This, naturally, leads to eyes drying out more quickly.  Keep the screen below eye level, and your eyelids will lower over the top part of your eye.

4 – Take Breaks From Eye-Intensive Activities

Reading, video games, close-up handiwork, and any other activity that requires constant sight work will tend to dry out eyes quickly.  Taking a break every hour or so will keep your eyes dry, especially if you take a couple minutes to close them so they can re-lubricate.

5 – Stop Smoking And/Or Avoid Smokers

Cigarette smoke is terrible for the eyes, as well as most every other part of the body.  Keep your eyes away from smoke at all times.

Remember: You only get one set of eyes.  Keep them protected to preserve your sight!

Symptoms Of Early Cataracts

Male ophthalmologist conducting an eye examinationOne of the many conditions that can be detected through yearly eye exams is the early onset of cataracts. This painless but sight-stealing condition happens to many people as they age, but can also affect a younger person. Here are the symptoms that should prompt an immediate call to the optometrist.

Cloudy Vision

As a cataract begins to develop, the changes are very slight. The lens of your eye becomes cloudy, and you may not catch it for a while. Vision in low light conditions may start to be noticeably difficult, and you may catch yourself squinting during nighttime driving. This is exactly the type of symptom that annual eye exams are designed to detect, since the doctor will notice them well before they can cause you trouble.

Sudden Shift in Vision

Have you been nearsighted most of your life, or had issues seeing up close? A sudden change in your ability to see near and far may indicate a cataract. This generally points to a more advanced condition, and your sight is likely to decline further from that point.

Glares and Halos

Night vision can be quite a challenge once cataracts begin to form. Not only can dark conditions make it difficult to see shapes and surfaces, but the glare from light sources (such as headlights and street lamps) can be nearly blinding. A bright ring will encircle light sources and may cause you to be temporarily blinded. Night driving can be quite a hazardous activity for those who have forming cataracts.

Double Vision

Last but not least, a symptom such as double vision is a strong indicator of cataract formation. This often happens in the beginning of the cataract’s life cycle, and may eventually fade as the cataract develops over time.

Early formation of cataracts can be brought on by diabetes, cancer treatments using radiation, and lifestyle choices such as alcohol and tobacco use. If you fall into any of those categories, eye exams are even more important for you. If you develop any of the above symptoms, call your Phoenix optometrist right away.

Young People Can Get Glaucoma Too

Doctor Examining Child's Eyes In Doctor's OfficeGlaucoma is a common condition of the eye. It is caused by damage to the ocular nerve, which is located in the back of the eyeball. Although there can be several causes, increased fluid pressure within the eye is the most common.

It can strike people of any age, so it’s important to know about this critical vision problem.

Glaucoma: A Vision Threat To All Ages

Because it is associated with “old age” conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s a common misconception that glaucoma only affects the elderly. Unfortunately, this is not true.

While glaucoma is more likely to affect older people, it can happen at any age. In fact, roughly 1 in 10,000 babies are born with it congenitally.

Glaucoma is also one of the most common forms of blindness, and it’s largely treatable. The problem is that without regular eye checkups, it can go undetected for years. By the time a person’s glaucoma gets bad enough to begin causing noticeable vision problems, their vision is permanently damaged.

Caught early on, glaucoma can be treated with medication at a near-perfect success rate. However, according to research, half of people with glaucoma don’t know it.

This is just one of the reasons that getting a vision screening for your children is so important, even at a young age. Eye disorders can usually be detected at 12-18 months, and corrected before they cause permanent problems.

Additionally, there may be a higher risk of glaucoma in:

  • Those with a family history of the disease
  • Children with diabetes
  • Severely nearsighted children
  • African Americans (who are 8-10 times more likely to be affected)

Anyone in these groups will be at elevated risk of glaucoma throughout their lives.

Glaucoma Is Preventable With Regular Eye Checkups

It is truly important to remember that in many cases glaucoma shows no symptoms for years, or even decades. It is crucial to catch it before enough damage is done to the optic nerve that it harms vision. Only regular eye exams can ensure it’s caught early enough to treat.

Remember to have your child’s vision checked at least once a year. It’s quick, easy, painless and can help them avoid a lifetime of vision problems. Make your appointment with your Phoenix Optometrist today!

Tips To Prepare For An Eye Exam

Eye ExamOne of the most common questions we hear from new patients (especially those who are a bit nervous) is, “what do I have to do to prepare myself for an eye exam?”

Well, the good news is that there’s very little real preparation that is necessary. Eye exams are quick and painless, usually only taking a few minutes at most. A child as young as 12-18 months can, and should, have an eye exam. It’s one of the least demanding medical procedures a person could undergo.

If you want to prepare for the exam, the most important thing to bring with you is information. Here are some of the things that an eye doctor might want to know. Being prepared can help them create a more accurate diagnosis of your eyesight.

Three Things An Optometrist Wants To Know About Your Eyes:

1 – Family Medical History 

Ocular problems are an early warning sign for many forms of disease, including maladies like diabetes, which are not directly related to vision. If you have a history of diabetes, glaucoma, strokes, high blood pressure or similar problems that are passed down genetically, you should tell your eye doctor during the exam.

2 – How You Use Your Eyes

Take a moment before the appointment and reflect on how you use your eyes during the day. How much time do you spend staring at computer screens, or printed materials? Do you more often focus on things up close or far away? Are you doing a lot of precise detailed work?

Being able to tell your optometrist these things may help them decide on the right prescription if, for example, you need corrective lenses. Your lenses should comfortably fit your lifestyle.

3 – Previous Vision Problems

If you’ve had any issues with your vision in the past, your eye exam is the time to mention them. This would include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Grey-outs or loss of vision
  • Extreme / frequent eye strain, pain or headaches
  • Difficulties with night vision or “halos” around lights
  • Physical alterations such as coloration

Telling your eye doctor about previous problems helps clue them into things to look for when examining your eyes.

The next time you have an upcoming eye exam, you have nothing to worry about. If you have any further questions, ask a qualified Phoenix optometrist.

Vision After 40: What To Expect

Phoenix OptometristAsk any Phoenix optometrist and they’ll tell you the same story: With a few lucky exceptions, nearly everyone’s eyesight will slowly get worse over time. Changes in the body as it ages can cause the eyes to change, and even minor alterations to the eyeball’s shape will cause big shifts in vision.

While proper eye care in youth can help stave off or slow down the progressive effects, nothing can truly halt the aging process of the eyes. As someone passes 40, they’re likely to start experiencing new vision problems.

If you’re nearing this critical period of your life, here are a few things you should know about your vision as you age.

Quick Notes On Middle-Age Vision Problems From Your Phoenix Optometrist

1 – Reduced Near Vision

A person is much more likely to lose close-up vision as the years pass and their eyes slowly change shape. There’s really not much that can be done other than transitioning into reading glasses and/or bifocals.

For this reason, regular eye exams become more important after 40 – your eyesight can, and most likely will, start requiring higher-powered lenses.

2 – Menopause

Obviously this is just for the ladies. Menopause will almost certainly bring on new vision challenges. Any “bloating” or water-retention will affect the eyes, and cause them to lose focus. It is also fairly common for post-menopausal women to have issues with dry eyes.

3 – Diabetic Conditions

Diabetes is the #1 cause of degenerative vision problems later in life, and it can contribute to both glaucoma and macular degeneration. If you have a history of diabetes in your family it is important to mention it to your Phoenix optometrist, even if you haven’t been diagnosed yourself.

Eye conditions can, in fact, be early warning signs of late-onset diabetes.

4 – Pharmaceutical Side-Effects

Finally, here’s something to keep in mind that is often overlooked: Many of the common pharmaceuticals prescribed to middle-aged patients can have ocular side-effects. Medications for blood pressure, depression or anxiety, thyroid conditions, or even arthritis can subtly affect your eyes.

If you notice vision problems after beginning a new medication, be sure to tell your doctor or optometrist as soon as possible.

Need More Help?

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4 Eye Care Mistakes to Avoid

Few parts of our bodies are more important for day-to-day life than our eyes.  These vulnerable organs are our main link to the outside world, and damage to the eyes is usually irreparable.

Poor eye care is often worse than no eye care.  Sometimes, it only makes things worse.

Eye_CareFour Important “Don’ts” For Proper Eye Care

1 – Using Anything But Water Or Tear Drops

Never clean your eyes or lenses with anything but water or eye drops designed for that purpose.  If possible, use distilled water rather than tap water, because even most tap water will still have some particles–or microorganisms–that can damage your eyes.

Most especially, never try to clean your contacts or your eyes with spit.  It’s incredibly unhygienic.  Your mouth always has a lot of bacteria in it, no matter how much mouthwash you use.

2 – Driving With Vision Problems

If you’re experiencing any sort of direct problems with your vision, such as blurriness, gray-outs, or migraine-style rainbows, do not drive yourself to the doctor.  There’s no telling when such conditions could take a turn for the worse, and losing your vision while driving is one of the most dangerous things that could happen.

Have a friend drive, or call 911 for an ambulance.

3 – Playing Sports Without Protective Gear

A single flying baseball, hockey puck, or other gaming object can achieve speeds in excess of 100 mph.  That can simply destroy an eye with a direct hit.  Sports goggles are the only safe form of eyewear for sports like these, and they can often do a lot to mitigate the damage done by direct hits.

Also, do not wear contact lenses when playing such games.  They’ll make the damage from an impact worse, not better.

4 – Not Calling Your Eye Care Specialist

Broadly speaking, if you’re having a problem with your vision that can’t be fixed with either water or over-the-counter painkillers, don’t waste time guessing.  Give your Phoenix optometrist a call for a consultation.

Our eyes are extremely fragile, and there honestly are few home remedies that actually help with eye trouble.  When in doubt, contact a specialist with your questions!

Are Women More Likely To Have Eye Problems?

 

Eye_HealthDid you know that women are more likely to develop eye health issues than men?

In fact, according to the Women’s Eye Health Task Force, nearly two-thirds of people suffering from blindness or high levels of visual impairment are women.  Domestically, it’s much the same:  Prevent Blindness America reports the same figures here at home.

This is a medical statistic that’s only started to become widely-known, and doctors around the world are just beginning to look into the reasons why.

Links Between Women And Vision Trouble

Why do women have more vision problems around the world?  There are several proposed reasons for this, and it’s likely they’re all contributing to the issue:

1 – Women live longer than men, statistically.  In the US, for example, women live roughly five years longer.  Since vision problems accrue over time, and are worst in old age, this is going to naturally increase the number of blind women, relative to men.

2 – Hormonal changes.  Men don’t suffer menopause, or anything like it, which removes this as a risk factor.  The hormonal changes in a woman’s body later in life can cause changes in eye shape or composition, especially if “bloating” is involved.  This can lead to ocular hypertension and other eye disorders.

3 – Lower access to health care.  While not globally true, in many places in the world -and even in America- women generally have lower access to health care than men, especially among the low-income.  Many eye conditions are treatable if caught early on, but can lead to irreversible damage if left untreated.

Along with this, there are the environmental and behavioral issues that both men and women share.  However, due to women’s existing higher chances of vision problems, that means problems like smoking, or high blood pressure, carry a greater chance of vision damage.

Keep Watch On Your Eyes Past Forty

The best eye health measures are preventative.  Our eyes are fragile, and there are many things in this world which can damage them irreparably.  Optometrists recommend women over 40 to have an eye checkup at least once a year.  This is especially important in the first year or two past menopause, when many new problems may develop.

Women may have higher chances of eye disease, but it’s not inevitable.  Consult with your Phoenix Optometrist if you’d like more recommendations on how to reduce your own chances of vision loss.