March Is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

20-20-20 Rule

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. In a pre COVID world this topic would be geared mostly to work environments such as construction or medical labs, but now that working from home has become the new normal during the pandemic, it is crucial to address the specific challenges associated with working remotely. 

In a work setting such as manufacturing or construction, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires employers to provide eye and face protection against chemical, environmental, radiological and mechanical irritants and hazards. Various forms of safety eyewear include prescription and non-prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, and full face respirators. 

WFH (working from home) has created increased awareness of a common condition known as computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of CVS include blurred vision, eye strain, headaches, and tired, burning, itchy eyes. Home offices which are often just the kitchen table or a folding chair and desk set up in the basement lend themselves to poor ergonomics which also contributes to exacerbating digital eye strain. 

Some tips to reduce symptoms of CVS include:

  • Placing computer screens 20-26” away from the eyes and below eye level
  • Computer glasses with antireflective coatings and blue light filters
  • Following the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds 
  • Using high quality artificial tears for dry eye

How To Combat M.A.D.E. (Mask Associated Dry Eye)

Aside from staying home with minimal to no contact with the outside world, face masks, hand washing, and social distancing remain the key ways to slow and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The most common complaint I hear from my patients relating to their eyes and the usage of masks has been foggy glasses, but an interesting study recently published by C.O.R.E. (Center For Ocular Research and Education) found an increase in dry eye and ocular irritation in people who wear masks for long periods of time. The reason for this has to do with the mechanics of mask wearing. When a mask is worn, especially when it is worn loosely, air flow from our breath is directed upwards towards our eyes and has the potential to cause the tear film to evaporate and cause dry eyes. This upwards flow of exhaled air  is also what causes glasses to fog. 

So what do we do? The first thing is to make sure your mask fits really well over your nose. Patients have asked me how I function wearing a mask all day vis-a-vis the fogging and I show them that when I have my mask on I wear it high on my nose with the wire on top sealed in such a way that air is not constantly escaping from the top. Other ways to seal the mask are by using a cool adhesive called Nerdwax or actually taping the mask on top. If your eyes feel dry, use a high quality artificial tear 3-4 times a day and make sure you remember to blink!  Lastly, the use of digital devices also contributes to dry eyes so make sure you are taking breaks during the workday.

Makeup Tips For Contact Lens Wearers

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This month’s post was originally going to discuss eye makeup tips for everyone, whether you wear contacts or not, but an interesting patient encounter last week prompted me to address contact lens wearers first. A young woman came in for her yearly eye exam and contact lens renewal complaining that a few hours after putting her contacts in her eyes the lenses became foggy and she had trouble seeing. She was wearing a two week lens, meaning she takes it out every night and cleans it and puts in a fresh lens every two weeks. This kind of contact lens usage can lead to a condition called GPC (giant papillary conjunctivitis) where one becomes sensitive/allergic to the proteins that build up on the lens over time. At first I thought this is what she had but when I looked at her contacts under the biomicroscope I immediately saw that her contacts were coated with bronze shimmery deposits that looked nothing like anything found in nature and everything like someone took blobs of makeup and threw them on her contact lenses. This prompted a conversation about her makeup habits, which actually were not bad except that when the problem would not go away she decided to put her makeup on first and then put the contact lens in. Bad move, it only made things worse. Next month we will talk more about makeup and eyes but here are some quick tips specifically about contacts and makeup.

  1. Contacts first, makeup second, and wash your hands first!
  2. Using primer on your lids prevents eye shadow from creeping into your eyes and onto your contacts, I like the one by Urban Decay.  
  3. Do not use eyeliner on your waterline – it will clog every oil gland you own and cause dry eye as well as migrating onto your contacts. 
  4. Use high quality eyeliner – I love Urban Decay 24/7, NYX waterproof retractable eye liner and Marc Jacobs Highliner gel eye crayon – they stay put without sliding around.  
  5. At the end of the day remove contacts first then remove your eye makeup.
  6. Daily disposable contacts will help prevent sensitivity to accidental buildup of anything on your lenses, whether it be makeup or proteins, this is the safest and healthiest way to successfully wear contact lenses.  

#SquintLessSeeMore with Oasys Transition Contact Lenses

X331-Acuvue-Oasys-Transitions-FACEBOOK-post1Imagine this – you go outside on a beautiful sunny day and realize that you left your sunglasses at home – ordinarily you would be squinting and uncomfortable but not anymore – now your contact lenses turn dark when you go outside! Acuvue Oasys, the wildly popular two week contact lens from Johnson and Johnson has joined technological forces with Transitions Optical to create Acuvue Oasys with Transitions. This new product got so much positive buzz that it was selected by Time Magazine as one of 2018’s BEST INVENTIONS OF 2018. Like the regular Oasys lens, the Oasys with Transitions is a two week lens that can be cleaned with either standard multipurpose solution or a hydrogen peroxide based system. It takes 30 seconds to activate when you go outside and ninety seconds to turn back to clear when you go back inside. When the lens is fully activated outside it filters 70% of outdoor light, and even inside it filters about 15% of indoor light. One important thing to realize is that although you are indeed blocking UV light on the eyeball itself when you wear these contacts, you still need sunglasses to protect the skin around your eyes as well as the other parts of your eye, and the contacts never get as dark as real sunglasses. Acuvue is recommending this lens for any patient who is bothered by light sensitivity, whether indoors our outdoors. They are also recommending it for patients who experience halos and starbursts when they drive at night, as well as to those who are bothered by computer lighting. The lens does change your eye color slightly when it is activated outdoors and in studies that were conducted on patients who tried this lens only 2% were bothered by the color shift. Check out the hashtag #SquintLessSeeMore for more cool information about this innovative product which is available through our office now.

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Do I Have Pink Eye?

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Okay guys, here’s the scoop – there is no such thing as pink eye. Oh sure, your eye can be pink, but “pink eye” is not a diagnosis, it’s a description of the way your eye looks. So now that we’ve cleared that misconception up, what causes eyes to become pink?

One of the most common causes of pink (or red) eyes is some form of conjunctivitis. The term conjunctivitis is also very nonspecific and vague – so let’s break it down into more understandable terms. The conjunctiva is the clear thin covering of the white part of the eye and the insides of the lids and the term “itis” derives from the Greek and means “inflammation of”. So quite simply, conjunctivitis means that the white part of the eye is inflamed, and when body parts become inflamed, they get red or pinkish. There are three main forms of conjunctivitis:

  1. Bacterial Conjunctivitis – like it sounds, it’s caused by bacteria – not only is the eye red but there is usually green discharge as well that can cause the eyes to be glued shut upon awakening in the morning. This is pretty contagious and is treated with topical antibiotic drops or ointment.
  2. Viral Conjunctivitis – caused by viruses, the eyes are watery, red and sometimes itchy. This is also very contagious and since it is a virus, antibiotic drops don’t work. This usually runs its course over a week or so – cool compresses and artificial tears can be helpful.
  3. Allergic Conjunctivitis – the hallmark symptom of this type of conjunctivitis is unbearable itching. Usually this is a reaction to pollen or ragweed during peak allergy season (spring or fall) or to pets, dust, or other known allergens. It is not contagious and can be treated conservatively with cool compresses or high quality artificial tears. Oral antihistamines are helpful if there is also nasal congestion and sneezing, prescription eye drops work best if it only affects the eyes.

Other causes of pink or red eyes are dry eye and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) as well as contact lens complications which can range from infections to corneal ulcers. Environmental causes of pink eye are irritants such as dust, smoke, air pollution and chemical exposure. It is important not to self diagnose or use somebody else’s eye drops. If your eyes get red or pink and your symptoms are getting worse or not going away it is important to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor to ensure proper and prompt treatment.