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Latest Vision News

Block the Blue Light

The truth is, blue light isn’t all bad. It shouldn’t be blocked at all times. It can help memory, boost alertness, and elevate your mood! Still, the eye cannot take blue light all day long and it can easily contribute to eye strain especially when it is coming from computer screens and tablets and cellphones.

These days, we’re working, learning, and relaxing in front of screens emitting blue light all throughout the day—and night. Even your average indoor lightbulb can give off blue light.

You’re probably wondering. Okay, but what is blue light anyway?

Blue light is the highest energy visible light on the UV spectrum, and before the advent of technology, the sun was our only significant source of blue light. Problems arise, however, with the amount of blue light to which we are exposing our brains and bodies, potentially causing undue stress to our eyes and even making it hard to sleep at night.

There are a few ways to avoid this strain. First, let us introduce you to one of the best options on the list: blue light blocking lenses.

What are blue light blocking lenses?

Good question. Glasses equipped with lenses with blue light protection are a simple solution to combat the symptoms caused by increased screen time. The technology in these lenses has a subtle tint that softens harsh blue light rays as they pass through, reducing the amount of blue light to which the wearer’s eyes are exposed. They aren’t heavy or thick and can be made without a prescription attached to them. They can be made to fit adults, teens and children and are safe for all to wear. All blue light blocking glasses aren’t made the same. They can be made to block a certain percentage of blue light. How much you decide to block, well, that is up to you. Give our practice a call and we will gladly talk you through your options!

What else can I do to block blue light?

While you won’t be able to block it without the correct lens as your shield, you can still manage it.

When working at a computer, for example, you’re often looking up and down, from screen to paper, and your eyes are moving around and refocusing time after time. This is where the 20-20-20 rule can come into play. For every 20 minutes you’re in front of a screen, turn your head and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Just, give your eyes a break.

Another option: simply lower the brightness. The display settings for your screen on your phone or computer allow you to adjust the amount of light seeping from the screen. If your screen looks like a light source, lower the brightness. If your screen looks dull and a bit too dark, it’s okay and probably for the best to brighten it up. A dull screen can also strain your eyes.

Bottom line, protect your eyes the best way you can and remember that we are here to help! Looking to get a pair of blue light protection glasses that fit your lifestyle and your budget? Here at Infinity Eye Care, we can customize any style of frame and lens prescription with blue light-blocking technology.

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As an eye doctor, diagnosing a red eye can be challenging. Are we dealing with an infection, allergy, inflammation or dryness?

One of the most common questions I get is, “Doc, my eyes are red, burning, itchy, and tearing. Is this dry eye or from allergies?” The short answer is it could be one, both or neither. I’ll outline various ways these conditions present clinically and the treatments for them.

The hallmark symptom of allergy – meaning if you have this symptom you almost definitely have the condition – is itching. Red, watery, ITCHY eyes are almost invariably due to an allergen, whether environmental or medicinal. It is one of the most common ocular conditions we, as eye doctors, treat - especially when plants are filling the air with pollen as they bloom in the spring and then die off in the fall.

The itching occurs because an immune cell called a Mast cell releases histamine, causing the itching sensation. It can be quite unbearable for the sufferer, causing them to rub their eyes constantly, which unbeknownst to them, actually increases the amount of histamine in the eye, leading to worsening of the symptoms.

Treatments may include:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription allergy drops (mostly anti-histamines or mast cell stabilizers).
  • Topical steroids (to get the inflammation under control).
  • Cool compresses applied to the eye.

Patients sometimes need to take drops every day to keep their symptoms under control.

Dry eye can have many of the same symptoms as allergic eye disease, with the eye being red and possibly watery (‘My eyes are tearing how could it be dry eyes?’). The main exceptions are that people with dry eyes tend to complain more of burning and a foreign body sensation - like there is sand or gravel in the eye - rather than itchiness.

Dry eye is a multi-faceted disease with many different causes and treatments. Treatment ranges from simple re-wetting eye drops to long-term medications (both topical and oral), as well as non-medicinal treatments such as eyelid heating treatment.

So how do we determine the difference? The first question I ask patients who complain of red, watery, uncomfortable eyes is, “What is your MAIN symptom? Itching or burning?” The answer will likely direct which course of treatment we take, and as those treatments sometimes overlap, you may have a component of both dry eye and allergy.

That is important to distinguish because many of the treatments we use for allergies - like antihistamine eye drops - can sometimes make the dryness worse. Though neither of these conditions is 100% curable (except maybe for allergy, where if you remove the allergen, you obviously won’t get symptoms!). We have many tools in our treatment arsenal to keep the symptoms at bay.

Unfortunately, dry eye and allergy aren’t the only two things that can cause your eye to have the multiple symptoms of red, watery, itchy, burning eyes. There are other problems, such as Blepharitis, that can produce a similar appearance, as well as bacterial and viral infections.

So before embarking on a particular therapy, it is wise to have a good exam to help you get on the right track of improving your symptoms.

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

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