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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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Do you have floaters in your vision?

Floaters are caused by thick areas in the gel-like fluid that fills the back cavity of your eye, called the vitreous.

Many people, especially highly near-sighted people, often see some degree of floaters for a good portion of their lives. Often, these floaters are in the periphery of your vision and may only be visible in certain lighting conditions. The most frequent conditions are when you are in bright sunlight and are looking toward the clear blue sky. This I know from personal experience as I have a floater in my left eye that I most often see when swimming outdoors. Every time I turn my head to the left to breathe I see this floater moving in my peripheral vision.

This is totally harmless other than when I’m swimming in the ocean and swear that sudden object in my peripheral vision is a shark bearing down on me. Some people who have floaters are not as lucky and the floater can be very central and almost constantly annoying, especially when trying to read.

The second scenario in which floaters occur is during the normal aging process.  The vitreous gel in the back of the eye starts to shrink as we age and at some point it collapses in on itself and pulls away from the retina. This sometimes results in a sudden set of new floaters.

When that happens you need to be checked for signs of a retinal tear or detachment.  As long as your retina survives that episode without any problems, the floaters themselves may stick around for a while and can be rather annoying.  

Most people eventually adapt to the floaters; the brain learns to filter them out so you are no longer aware of them. The vitreous can also collapse more as time goes on and the dense floater you are seeing initially may move further forward and drop lower in the eye so the shadow it is casting is less intense and more in the periphery of your vision where it is much easier to ignore.

The first line of treatment for floaters has been, and still is, to live with them. Once you have your retina checked and there is nothing wrong there, the floaters themselves are harmless and will not lead to any further deterioration of your vision, which is why, if at all possible, you should just live with them. This is especially true if the floaters are new because the overwhelming majority of people with new floaters will eventually get to the point where they are no longer seeing them or at least where they are not interfering with normal daily activities.

If you have tried to wait them out and live with them but they are still interfering with your normal daily activities, you may want to consider having them treated with a laser.

This treatment relatively new and involves using a special laser to try to break down large floaters into much smaller pieces that may no longer be visible. In a recent study of the laser treatment involving 52 patients, 36 were treated with the laser (a single laser treatment session) and 16 people had a sham treatment (meaning they went through everything the treated group did but did not actually have the real treatment done).  In the people who were actually treated, 54% reported a significant improvement in the floater symptoms while 0% in the sham group reported any improvement (no placebo effect). There were no significant side effects in either group.

Some points to note in the above study:

Fifty-four percent of people treated noted a significant improvement in their floater symptoms with a single treatment. That’s clearly not anywhere near a guaranteed improvement.
Other people have noted an improvement after more than one session, bringing the total expected improvement into the 70% range, with one or more treatments.
Another point to note is that there were no significant side effects to the treatment.
Although true in this small study, it does not mean that there are no risks to the laser treatment. Although rare, there have been reports of damage to the retina, optic nerve or the lens of the eye.  

Another treatment that can be used to treat floaters is a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. This involves surgically going inside the back of the eye and removing the vitreous. This surgical procedure carries a higher risk than the laser treatment and is not 100% effective.

In summary, this new laser treatment is a good addition to the tools to deal with significant floater problems. If you have floaters for at least six months and they are central and interfering with your normal daily activities such as reading or driving and you want to see if this laser treatment could be right for you, check with your eye doctor.

 

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

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