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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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The jury is still out on that question. There is some supportive experimental data in animal models but no well-done human studies that show any significant benefit.

What you shouldn’t do is pass up taking the AREDS 2 nutritional supplement formula, which is clinically proven to reduce the risk of severe visual loss in. Almost all the data supporting the POSSIBLE benefits of bilberry in visual conditions is related to NON-HUMANS. Stick with the AREDS 2 formula that has excellent clinical evidence.

So, what is bilberry and why do some people use it?

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), a low-growing shrub that produces a blue-colored berry, is native to Northern Europe and grows in North America and Asia. It is naturally rich in anthocyanins, which have anti-oxidant properties.

During World War II, British pilots in the Royal Air Force ate bilberry jam, hoping to improve their night vision. No one is exactly sure where the impetus to do this came from, but it is believed that this event is what lead to some widespread claims that bilberry was good for your eyes.

A study by JH Kramer,  Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry) for Night Vision - A Systematic Review of Placebo-Controlled Trials, reviewed most of the literature pertaining to the claim that bilberry improves night vision. He found that the four most recent trials, which were all rigorous randomized controlled trials (RCTs), showed no correlation with bilberry extract and improved night vision. A fifth RCT and seven non-randomized controlled trials reported positive effects on outcome measures relevant to night vision, but these studies had less-rigorous methodology.

Healthy subjects with normal or above-average eyesight were tested in 11 of the 12 trials. The hypothesis that V. myrtillus improves normal night vision is not supported by evidence from rigorous clinical studies. There is a complete absence of rigorous research into the effects of the extract on subjects suffering impaired night vision due to pathological eye conditions.

Even though there is no solid evidence in human studies that bilberry produces any positive visual effects on night vision there is some experimental evidence that implies it might be useful in some ocular conditions whose mode of action is oxidative stress. There are recent epidemiologic, molecular and genetic studies that show a major role of oxidative stress in age-related macular degeneration.

There have been some studies showing oxidative protective effects of bilberry in non-human models. 

In Protective effects of bilberry and lingonberry extracts against blue-light emitting diode light-induced retinal photoreceptor cell damage in vitro, Ogawa et al showed in cultured mouse cells that adding bilberry extract to cells before subjecting them to high-energy short-wavelength light that the cells survived better mostly by reducing the amount of reactive oxidative molecules. 

In Retinoprotective Effects of Bilberry Anthocyanins via Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Anti-Apoptotic Mechanisms in a Visible Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration Model in Pigmented Rabbits, Wang et al found similarly improved survival of pigmented rabbit retinal cells when exposed to bilberry abstract prior to high-intensity light.

But bilberry is not without potential side effects.

Bilberry possesses anti-platelet activity; it may interact with NSAIDs, particularly aspirin. And excessive drinking of bilberry juice may cause diarrhea. One study of 2,295 people given bilberry extract found a 4% incidence of side effects or adverse events. Further, bilberry side effects may include mild digestive distress, skin rashes and drowsiness. Chronic uses of the bilberry leaf may lead to serious side effects. High doses of bilberry leaf can be poisonous.

Bilberry has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety, effectiveness, or purity.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

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