Staring at a computer screen can make your eyes feel dry and tired. Studies show we blink about half as often while using computers and other digital screens. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers the following tips for reducing eyestrain:
Post a note that reminds you to blink next to the screen as a reminder.
Sit about 25 inches from the screen and position the screen so your eyes are focused slightly downward.
Reduce glare by lighting the area properly and use a screen filter if needed.
Take regular breaks from the computer.
Get enough sleep at night.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
For more information, please visit the AAO’s website.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a record 21.7 million students will head to college this fall. Caring for their vision is not often top of mind for college students, but it should be. Crowded classes and dorm rooms can be a breeding ground for infectious eye diseases, and computer use and reading have been linked to poor eyesight.
Don’t shower or swim with contact lenses. Exposing contact lenses to water increases your risk of contacting an infection. Do not wear contact lenses while swimming or in the shower, and always use a sterile contact lens solution to clean contacts; never clean them with water.
Get outside often. Time spent indoors reading or using a computer has been linked to a higher risk of nearsightedness — or myopia — while other research has shown that spending time outdoors can protect vision from getting worse.
Wash your hands frequently. Washing hands with soap can stop the spread of infectious diseases, including conjunctivitis, or pink eye, which is easily spread in college dorms.
Give your eyes a rest. To help avoid eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
Don’t share makeup. Bacteria grow easily in eye makeup. Avoid the spread of infection by only using your own eye makeup and throwing it away after three months. If you develop an eye infection, immediately throw away all your eye makeup.
Protect your eyes while playing sports. Sports-related eye injuries happen most often in sports such as baseball, basketball and lacrosse. To keep stray balls and elbows from hitting your eyes, consider wearing polycarbonate sports glasses.
Erik Weihenmayer doesn’t let vision loss stop him from reaching his dreams. Weihenmayer, who lost his vision to retinoschisis in his teens, became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest in 2001. Since then, he has scaled the Seven Summits, competed in mountain bike racing, and even starred in a reality show: Expedition Impossible.
Now Erik has a new challenge: to be the first blind person to kayak the Grand Canyon. He’s been training for the past several years in order to conquer the 277 miles and class IV rapids in the Grand Canyon. This is a challenge for the most experienced kayaker, let alone one without vision.
I wish Erik the best as he takes on this daring challenge.
In a recent study published in Ophthalmology, the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, researchers at the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany found a strong link between levels of higher education and nearsightedness. The possible culprits of such a link may be found in the increased time spent indoors performing up-close activities such as reading or working on a computer.
To help prevent myopia experts recommend going outside more often. In the last several years, studies have shown that more time outdoors and exposure to daylight for children is associated with less nearsightedness.
For more on the connection between years in school, outdoor activities and nearsightedness, see the AAO website.
Gordon and Lulie Gund. Photo credit: Foundation Fighting Blindness
The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding to the research providing treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases. To capitalize on the momentum the foundation has gained over the past decades, the foundation’s chairman and co-founder, Gordon Gund, and his family have instated the Gund Family Challenge. Over the next two years (until June 30, 2016), the Gund family will match all donations of $25,000 or more, with all of it going to research. The goal is to raise at least $50 million (with a matched donation of $50 million coming from the Gund family), but there is no cap on this offer. If you are interested in contributing, you can find more information on the Foundation Fighting Blindness website.
Photo credit: The National Center for Children’s Vision & Eye Health (NCCVEH) at Prevent Blindness
Prevent Blindness has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. To help give children a head start at a successful school year, Prevent Blindness has highlighted the following programs and resources to help parents keep their children’s sight healthy. Click on the following programs for more information on each.
Eye Spy: An online eye healthy and safety education program designed specifically for children. May also be used by teachers in the classroom.
Star Pupils Eye Health and Safety Curriculum: From Prevent Blindness, this program is available for free download and provides teachers with interactive materials to help students learn the importance of eye health and safety.
Working with Medical Professionals: A resource from FamilyConnect.org, written for parents of children with visual impairments, this information sheet details the variety of eye care specialists your child may see and the qualifications and roles of each.
One in six Americans age 65 and older has a vision impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, has put together the following infographic with some facts and tips for seniors about keeping their eyes healthy and the importance of regular eye exams.
Olivia Goree and son Christian. Photo courtesy of Loyola University Medical Center.
While most people consider glaucoma a geriatric disease – after all, it’s largely diagnosed in people older than 60 – the disease occasionally affects infants and children too.
When Christian Goree was just six weeks old, his mother Olivia noticed something seemed different about his eyes. Unable to shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong, Goree took him to the Loyola University Medical center where she was shocked to learn Christian has glaucoma.
“I was really surprised,” recalled Goree, who said she had only ever heard of the vision-robbing disease affecting older adults.
To halt the progression of the disease, Christian underwent surgery. Doctors implanted tiny silicone tubing in his eyes, which allows fluid to drain properly.
Christian now wears glasses and behaves like a typical 18 month-old boy – running around with lots of energy. And while his medical care is not over – Christian wears glasses and will need more surgery in the future – thanks to his mother’s intuition, the physicians at Loyola were able to preserve much of Christian’s vision.
Researchers from Oxford University in England are developing a set of “smart glasses” that use cameras and software to help the vision impaired navigate unfamiliar territory.
The glasses operate by recognizing objects and displaying them on the lenses of the glasses, or translating signs into speech. Two small cameras mounted on the glasses capture pictures just as human eyes do. The spectacles then display the information from the cameras on transparent LED displays on the lenses, so the wearer can see the enhanced image using their remaining sight. Meanwhile, a set of headphones takes text and translates it into speech. The glasses are also equipped with GPS, a compass and a gyroscope that measures the orientation of the glasses.
In the future, researchers hope to develop additional features for the glasses, including levels of brightness to show depth, movement detection, and the ability to provide GPS directions via the headphones.
Photo: Yvonne Felix, her husband, Joe, and sons Thomas and Noah, via Aaron Harris/The Toronto Star
Having any kind of vision loss can make life more difficult to navigate – but having limited or no sight and raising young children at the same time can prove daunting to even the most patient parent. Vision-impaired parents must take a few extra steps to keep everyone safe, happy and healthy.
Yvonne Felix, a Toronto-area mother of two, is a living example of this challenge. Since childhood, Felix has had Stargardt disease, which has destroyed her central vision and left her legally blind. To navigate the challenge of parenting two young boys without her sight, Felix offers a few tips that may be useful to other vision-impaired parents:
Baby proof your house. Install gates on stairs, deadbolt locks on exterior doors, and baby locks/latches. Lock hazardous things such as medicine, cleaners, and knives behind baby-proofed doors.
Sing a cleanup song to make it fun for kids to put toys away, so there are no tripping hazards for the vision-impaired parent. Put shoes and coats away as soon as you arrive home (this can also help in the morning rush).
Set up diaper stations on each floor and put all the diapering supplies in a basket to avoid having to search for things.
When your toddler insists on walking and not riding in the stroller, use a baby tether. This is perfect for sidewalks, parks and the mall.
Most importantly – ask for help. Every parent needs some help — not just those with low vision. It helps to be specific about your needs.