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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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Is it safe to use "Redness Relief" eye drops regularly?

The short answer is NO.

Here’s the slightly longer answer.

There are several eye “Redness Relief” products on the over-the-counter market, such as those made by Visine, Clear Eyes, and Bausch & Lomb - as well as generic versions sold by pharmacy chains.

Most commonly, the active ingredient in redness relief drops is either Tetrahydrozoline or Naphazoline. Both of these drugs are in a category called sympathomimetics.

Sympathomimetics, the active ingredient in redness relief drops, work though a process called vasoconstriction, an artificial clamping down of the superficial blood vessels on the eye surface. These blood vessels often dilate in response to an irritation. This increase in blood flow is trying to help repair whatever irritation is affecting the surface of the eye. Clamping down on those vessels by using a vasoconstrictor counteracts the body’s efforts to repair the problem.

The other downside to repetitively using redness relief drops is that after the vasoconstrictor wears off the vessels often dilate to an even larger degree than when the process started. This stimulates you to use the drops again.

All of these drops carry these same two warnings on their labels:

Do not overuse as it may produce increased redness of the eye.

Stop using and ask a doctor if you experience eye pain, changes in vision, continued redness or irritation of the eye condition worsens or persists for more than 72 hours.

Does anyone read those warnings?  Almost never.

These drops are meant to be used for a VERY short duration - one or two days. That’s it!

They are not meant to be used indefinitely and they are certainly not meant to be used daily.

Take a good look at that first warning: MAY PRODUCE INCREASED REDNESS OF THE EYE.

If you are using redness relief drops repetitively you are likely making your eye redness WORSE, not better.

If you have been using redness relief drops daily you need to stop and replace them with an artificial tear or lubricating drop - something that DOES NOT say “gets the red out.”

After you make that switch your eyes are initially going to be red as your blood vessels take time to regain their normal vascular tone without the vasoconstrictor clamping down on them. The lubricating drop will actually help the repair the damage done by exposure to adverse conditions. This will decrease the inflammatory signals that make the vessels dilate. You will actually be doing something helpful to the surface of your eyes instead of just masking everything by artificially clamping down on your vessels and decreasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the front surface of your eye.

Using redness relief drops if you wear contacts is an even worse idea. If you put the drop in with your contact in, the contact will hold onto the drug and keep it on your eye surface longer, thus likely increasing the vasoconstriction. 

Your cornea has no blood vessels in it and it depends on the blood vessels in the conjunctiva over the whites of the eye to bring in nutrients and oxygen. The other source of oxygen for the cornea is what it gets from diffusion from the atmosphere and that is also cut down by the presence of the contact lens.

The redness relief drop combined with the contact lens are now BOTH reducing the levels of oxygen getting to the cornea. Decreased oxygen to the cornea is one of the biggest risks for contact lens-related infections, including corneal ulcers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning redness relief drops if used appropriately for a very short time to soothe the eyes if they have been temporarily exposed to elements that made them irritated. For a day or two redness relief drops are fine. But for long-term use or for use while wearing your contacts they are much more likely to cause problems than to provide any benefits.

 

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

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