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Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone?

apple applications apps cell phoneThe other day I got an alert on my cell phone telling me that I had spent an hour that day on my phone. After I got over the shock of being spied on by my phone I clicked on the alert to check it out. A new feature offered up by the latest apple software update iOS 12 allows you to track how much time you spend on your phone and breaks it down even further by how much time you spend on each app. Another interesting feature is the ability to limit how much time on you spend on each app – for example – if you decide you are wasting way too much time on Facebook you can set a time limit of an hour a day and after that you will not be able to access the app anymore. There is also a new feature called “downtime” which limits your usage of certain apps before bedtime. 

apple apple device cellphone deviceWhy is this important? There are many reasons too much screen time is not good for you, ranging from decreased socialization to lack of productivity to outright cell phone addiction (yes this is a thing). From an optometric perspective, too much screen time leads to a condition called Digital Eye Strain. Symptoms of this are tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, dry eye, light sensitivity, and a range of other annoying symptoms. While we can prescribe glasses for this condition (stay tuned for more on this in another post) the best way to combat eye pain from too much screen time is to limit the amount of time you spend on screens. Kudos to Apple for creating this useful new tool.  

 

What Do You Mean My Kid Needs Glasses??!!

pexels-photo-914931.jpegThe other day the cutest little girl came in for her first eye exam. She was starting third grade and was an excellent student reading above grade level. Her parents were sure she didn’t need glasses but thought it was time for her to start having routine eye exams. She was articulate and outspoken and wanted to be done with her visit so she could get on with her day. She read the eye chart in her right eye all the way down to the tiniest letter and was eager to do the same on the left eye. To everyone’s surprise she struggled, barely getting down to the second to last line, guessing and growing frustrated as she realized something wasn’t right. She also had some trouble seeing in 3D which indicated that her two eyes were not working together. At the end of the exam I told her parents that although her right eye was perfect she was hyperopic, or farsighted in her left eye and the large discrepancy between the two eyes had created amblyopia (lazy eye) in that left eye. She left with a new pair of glasses and a follow-up appointment in three months.

80% of learning is visual – if your child does not see well he or she will not do well in school. Sometimes kids are unable to realize or articulate that something is wrong – either they will think that whatever they are experiencing is normal or they just won’t complain. Vision screenings at the pediatrician are not a substitute for a full and comprehensive eye exam. Eye exams are recommended at the age of six months (by specialized infantsee providers) and subsequently yearly after the age of three. Early use of iPads and other digital devices creates a new challenge for children’s developing visual systems and seeing well involves more than just seeing 20/20 on an eye chart. Evaluation of tracking, eye teaming and convergence are crucial to ensuring optimal ocular performance and subsequent academic success.

kids-girl-pencil-drawing-159823.jpegThis little girl and her family were lucky that she was doing so well in school despite her amblyopia and suboptimal visual system. Don’t wait until your child complains or you get a note sent home from the school nurse or your child’s teacher – book your childs yearly exam now before the school year gets underway.

Are video games bad for your eyes?

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The president of China, Xi Jinping, seems to think so. The Xinhua News Agency came out with an article this past week that stated that since the “vision health of our country’s young people has always been a great concern” to Xi Jinping, the country is going to start limiting the number of new online video games available for sale. A recent study found that there was a 12% prevalence of myopia (or nearsightedness) in first grade children, a number that jumped to 67.4% by seventh grade. Excessive reading and/or prolonged near point work has long been a contender in the lineup of reasons for why nearsightedness develops, and the Chinese have glommed onto the specific near point activity of gaming as an activity to limit in order to curtail the myopic epidemic.

There are many theories as to why myopia develops, and there is no one culprit to blame. Genetics play a role as does lack of spending time outdoors and near point stress from prolonged reading as well as the digital world that we now inhabit. Doctors are reluctant to blame any one thing for the development of myopia and many do not agree with China’s video game restriction. Instead of totally banning video games, parents should rather limit screen time and encourage their children to play outside. Kids (and adults) should also be encouraged to follow the 20/20/20 rule – every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds. As you can imagine gaming industry stock dropped in response to China’s announcement….

focus photo of super mario luigi and yoshi figurines
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Contact Lens Health Week

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Although we have talked about good contact lens hygiene in the past (remember the underwear analogy?) in honor of Contact Lens Health Week (August 20-24) I will reiterate some of the dos and don’ts of proper contact lens usage.

  • Don’t sleep or nap in your contacts. Ever. This kind of risky behavior increases the chances of contact lens related eye infection by 6-8 times. These types of eye infections can lead to using drops hourly, vision loss, and surgery. Just Don’t Do It.
  • Wash your hands before putting your fingers in your eyes to touch your contacts.
  • Daily disposables are the healthiest modality of contact lens wear. If you do wear bi-weekly or monthly contacts make sure you are using fresh solution in your clean case every day and don’t wear your contacts beyond the recommended wear schedule. Yuk. An old dirty contact lens can also cause infections.
  • No swimming or showering with contact lenses. Microbes in water can adhere to contacts and cause…you guessed it – terrible eye infections.
  • If your eye hurts or looks red or weird don’t put your contact lenses in your eye and hope for the best – make an appointment ASAP with your optometrist.
  • Make an appointment yearly to see your optometrist. Not all contact lens related complications are visible to the naked eye and a thorough professional evaluation is necessary to ensure your eyes are getting enough oxygen and have no corneal defects.

#onepairtakecare – you only get one pair of eyes – treat them well!

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Faux Eyelashes Are A Faux Pas

woman face eye eyelashes
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This blog post could alternatively be named “How to make your optometrist REALLY REALLY mad”. I had an emergency patient yesterday who had a bloody looking eye after having her makeup done for a family wedding. The makeup artist applied fake eyelashes onto my patients lashes and instead of pre-trimming them before application, she trimmed them with a scissor once the lashes were already glued on. It seems that somehow the scissors made some kind of contact with my patients eye ??!! which immediately caused some discomfort as well as popping some surface blood vessels. My patient had a sore ugly eye which aside from causing her some mild pain for the duration of the wedding will also require some heavy-duty Photoshopping skills by the photographer. I am not a fan of fake eyelashes as I have had many patients come to me for treatment after developing an allergy to the glue that bonds the fake lashes to the real lashes. Other common mishaps involving false lashes include the possibility of bacteria getting trapped between the fake and real lashes causing infection, as well as corneal damage from fake lashes or glue falling into the eye. And of course there is always the danger of a “whoopsie” on the part of the makeup artist and having a scissor end up waaaaay too close to your eyeball. My advice for long lashes? Apply a mascara primer first and two coats of mascara – your eyes and your eye doctor will thank you.