Frame Fashion 2021

Everyone’s tired of the WFH aesthetic of sweats and daytime pajamas so it’s no surprise that this season fashion is back with a vengeance. Clothing wise I’m excited about colorful knitwear, particularly sweaters featuring crochet granny squares – cool, nerdy, and nostalgic all at the same time. I’m on the fence with the chunky loafer look for shoes, it evokes memories of the early nineties and I’m not convinced I want to go back there…. 

So what’s doing in the eye biz world in terms of fresh and new for fall? The September 2021 edition of Eyecare Business calls this fashion season “unexpected”. Here’s a rundown of the top seven trends in frames for this season:

  1. Geometrical and fanciful shapes – we’ve seen a lot of hexagons in both metal and plastic frames – it’s a totally fresh shape and super trendy.
  2. Edgy glamour – Big frames, unique tints and cool shapes, especially in sunglasses
  3. Logos are back – not everyone likes someone else’s name on their frames, but seriously, who doesn’t love an obscenely gigantic logo on an equally gigantic frame – the bigger the better!
  4. Cat-eye shapes – I’m not convinced this trend ever really goes away. Whether subtle or bold, the upward taper of the frame at the top edge is super flattering for any cheekbone.
  5. Twee – this is a trend that is a British term for dainty, sweet, or cutesy styles. It includes berets, pom-pom hats, pussy bows, and pleated skirts. Frame wise this means bubblegum pinks or any sugary hues. 
  6. 80’s – Think oversized, tons of crystals and more brow bars. Now this is an era I’m happy to go back to!
  7. Animal prints – Again, I’m not sure this trend is ever out of style. Aside from classic leopard prints, think zebra, you can’t go wrong with classic black and white. 

Can Too Much Coffee Cause Glaucoma?

Can too much coffee cause glaucoma? Yes, no, and maybe. A recent study published in the June edition of Ophthalmology determined that consuming large amounts of caffeine daily increased the risk of glaucoma by more than three fold for those with a genetic predisposition for higher eye pressure. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and often goes undetected for years since it’s first impact is on peripheral vision. Although many factors contribute to glaucoma, high intraocular pressure is an important risk factor in the disease as well as being the primary target of glaucoma drops whose goal is to decrease elevated eye pressure. Researchers studied the relationship between caffeine, eye pressure and patients who had glaucoma, and concluded that caffeine intake was not associated with causing glaucoma or high eye pressure overall, BUT, in patients with a high genetic predisposition to elevated eye pressure, greater caffeine consumption was associated with higher eye pressure and higher prevalence of glaucoma. So how much caffeine are we talking about? The study determined that patients who consumed more than 321 mg of caffeine (about 3 cups) were at risk for high eye pressure and glaucoma, but again, only if they were in that high genetic risk category. 

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

January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is one of most misunderstood eye diseases that eye doctors treat. Most people have heard of glaucoma and know they don’t want to have it, but I’ve found that most of my patients aren’t really sure how it damages vision or how it gets treated. 2.7 million people in the United States have glaucoma and it is the second leading cause of blindness.

Certain types of glaucoma are painless, which gives the disease the dubious distinction of being called “the sneak thief of vision”. It is a disease that damages the optic nerve in the eye causing progressive loss of peripheral vision, and by the time someone notices that they have lost portions of their visual field it is too late, and that visual loss is irreversible. One of the variables that causes the optic nerve to sustain damage is elevated intraocular pressure. If the pressure in the eye is extremely high, the eye will be painful, but the majority of patients only have moderately elevated pressure and will not know it is high until it is detected on a routine eye exam. Factors that increase the risk of developing glaucoma include being African American, having a family history, hypothyroidism, being over 60, and previous eye trauma. Typically, the initial treatment modality is using eye drops that lower the intraocular pressure,  but more advanced or complicated cases may need laser or surgery.

A disease such as glaucoma is a perfect example of why everyone needs routine eye care, even if they have 20/20 vision, since evaluation of the optic nerve, peripheral vision, and eye pressure measurements in the office are key to preventing devastating and permanent vision loss. 

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.