As optometrists, concerned parents often ask us about the effects of screen use on their child’s eyes. In order to dispel some myths about screen time, we decided to put together this useful fact sheet.
Blue light is a high-energy visible light and has a short wave length. It is called so because it is on the violet-blue band of the spectrum.
Blue light is naturally present in sunlight but is also something we can see from screens such as TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets.
The Association of Optometrists (2017) state that “there is currently no scientific evidence that blue light causes damage to the eyes. However, there is evidence to suggest that carrying out near tasks, involving looking at something close-up, such as using mobile devices, screen time and reading a book, can increase eye strain for those who do this for long periods of time.”
Digital eye strain occurs when long periods are spent using near vision, for example, reading on screen or playing online games. Digital eye strain does not cause permanent damage to your eyes, but can be uncomfortable. The main symptom is temporary blurred vision but other signs include sore and tired eyes, dry eye and headaches.
Using screens close to or at bedtime can contribute to poorer sleep, which may mean your child’s concentration levels are lower during the day. This may be because blue light is linked to the suppression of the hormone melatonin which makes us feel sleepy. However, there are a number of other causes that may affect sleep pattern also.
Some people report that lens coatings that filter blue light make their eyes feel more comfortable or are helpful before bed, but there is no clear scientific evidence to support this. There is also no evidence that these kinds of coatings prevent eye disease.
Research into the effects of blue light is still ongoing. Some past studies revealed that exposure to blue light can lead to changes in animals’ eyes. However, because the time and intensity of exposure to blue light was more than that of natural daylight and that of screens, it does not prove blue light is harmful to human eyes.
Short-sightedness (myopia) is increasing globally. Family history, ethnic background, environment and carrying out near tasks, such as screen use, have all been linked to the development of short-sightedness. There is no clear evidence to suggest that screen time alone is the direct cause. However, there is good evidence to suggest that children who spend more time outdoors are at lower risk of developing short-sightedness.
Whilst most people understand the importance of using sun cream, the benefits of a good pair of sunglasses may not be so obvious. In addition to being stylish, a good pair of sunglasses offers many benefits to the health of your eyes.
Sunlight mainly consists of two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays namely UVA and UVB light. There is a lack of awareness in Ireland, of the damaging effects these rays have on the eye. Damaging UV rays can cause early cataract, macular degeneration –the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65, discolouration to the white of the eyes, as well as cancer of the eyelids and the skin around the eyes. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but, even on a cloudy day, UV radiation is all around us, and there is potential for damage to occur. People with cataracts (and those who have had cataract surgery), macular degeneration or retinal conditions should be extra careful, as exposure to UVB rays can aggravate these conditions.
Wearing sunglasses eliminates ultraviolet rays, and it’s vital that you choose a pair of sunglasses that will offer both protection and visual clarity in the sun. Like adults, children’s delicate eyes need protecting from the sun. From birth, it is a good idea to protect a baby’s eyes with a sunhat and by sitting them in the shade.
As soon as possible, they should be wearing sunglasses made with tough polycarbonate lenses that will not damage their eyes if they break.
Dr Brendan McCreesh from McBride and McCreesh Opticians explains the features that we should look out for, when buying a new pair of sunglasses;
“Quality sunglasses should have polarised lenses or anti reflective coating which cut reflected glare. Polarised lenses block out the horizontal glare and haze from flat surfaces such as roads, desktops and tables. When sunlight hits the lenses, the reflective light is filtered and this eliminates the visible glare. This is particularly helpful when driving in the sun. Polarized lenses also improve your depth perception, which is beneficial when playing sports such as golfing, cycling or skiing. Anti-reflecting coatings reduce glare caused by light reflecting off the back surface of your sunglass lenses.
Mirror coated lenses are another option and are highly reflective coatings applied to the front surface of sunglass lenses to reduce the amount of light entering the eye. This makes them especially beneficial for activities in very bright conditions, such as skiing on a sunny day.
Choose a pair of sunglasses that protects you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labelled as “UV 400”, which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometres.
Look for the CE mark, which proves they conform to the European Community Standard. They should also satisfy British Standard BSEN1836, meaning that they will provide high levels of protection against damaging ultraviolet light.”
Maui Jim’s have nine anti-reflective layers on top of the polarised lens, which eliminate glare. The colour-enhancing filter is embedded into the lens resulting in crisp, sharp colour definition. They are available in a range of different styles and colours to suit casual wearers and sports enthusiasts!
Best known for their Wayfarer and Aviator lines of sunglasses, Ray-Ban is the world’s biggest sunglass brand. Their lens has similar properties to the Maui Jim lens, in that it eliminates glare and harmful UV rays. Their glass lenses also have high impact resistance and resistance to scratching.
Good eyesight is essential if you are to drive safely – it’s a bit of a no-brainer, right? Wrong! It is estimated that road crashes involving a driver with poor vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year (RSA Insurance Group plc, overview available on the Road Safety Observatory, 2012).
It was one such accident that killed Poppy-Arabella Clarke in July 2016. The 3-year-old girl was mowed down by John Place whilst she was on her way to nursery. The pensioner was completely oblivious to what he had done, until another motorist who witnessed the accident stopped him.
Sadly, this tragic accident was completely preventable. The police investigation revealed that Mr Place was not wearing spectacles. He had also been told his eyesight was unfit for driving weeks before the accident, even when he was wearing spectacles. Despite understanding clearly what he was told, Mr Place chose to ignore the advice of two separate optometrists.
The pensioner was jailed at the end of last month, for four years at Birmingham Crown Court, after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Poppy Arabella’s parents are now calling for a change in the law “requiring medical professionals to report people who are unfit to drive to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency” (AOP, 2017), so their licence can be revoked.
In 2011 16-year-old Cassie McCord, died from fatal head injuries after being struck by a car. It was discovered the driver, an 87 year old pensioner had failed a police eyesight test just days before the accident, and was advised by police not to drive. However, a legal loophole enabled him to continue to drive and police had no power to immediately revoke his licence.
Following her daughter’s death, Jackie Rason, fought for a change in the law. Subsequently Cassie’s law was introduced which empowers the DVLA to revoke licences much quicker. Also when the police “believe that the safety of other road users would be put at risk if a driver with insufficient eye sight remains on the road, they can ask for the licence to be urgently revoked. (McCormick, 2015). If a banned driver then continues to drive, they are committing a crime, which may lead to them being arrested or having their vehicle seized. Since the introduction of the new powers in 2013, 609 licences have been revoked (McCormick, 2015).
Dr Brendan McCreesh, Optometrist at McBride and McCreesh Opticians, hopes that both tragedies will send out a clear message to drivers “that you and you alone, have a personal responsibility to other road users to listen and act on both medical and police advice, and to ensure that you are fit to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
Visit McBride and McCreesh Opticians for further information on vision and driving, including the best type of lenses, frames and sunglasses for driving. Book on 028 66322524.
With June heralding the start of the summer music season and almost 750 UK festivals planned this year, advice for contact lens users on caring for their eyes during the festival season is needed.
Brendan McCreesh, optometrist at McBride and McCreesh, said: “Festival season is hotting up and it’s time to start thinking about lenses. With a little preparation, basic awareness and the right kit, contact lenses can be used easily and safely at festivals. Simple steps will help ensure eye infections and even more serious corneal infections – which can cause pain and scarring of the eye, permanently impairing vision – are avoided.”
Commenting on the need to keep contact lenses clean from bacteria, Brendan said: “Festival goers are likely to have a limited supply of running water, but unless you want to leave a festival early to see your optometrist, make sure you never touch your contacts, or eyes, with dirty hands. A tent is probably the best place to change lenses rather than in the festival’s public washing area, due to increased risk of infection. Use anti-bacterial wipes or gel and remember to always carry some with you, in case you need to remove your contacts mid set.
“Make sure you prepare for unusual circumstances by ensuring you have access to clean lenses; daily disposable users should bring a few spare changes. And, if you’re not using disposables, it’s a good idea to bring two storage cases, one for when you are out and about and one for back at your tent. Remember, never be tempted to store contact lenses in anything other than the sterile contact lens solution recommended by your optometrist.”
Beyond keeping contact lenses clean, a weekend of partying also creates other challenges. Brendan added: “Dehydration can play a big role in eye irritation, especially for users of contact lenses. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water, around five to seven small bottles a day, and consider contact lens rewetting drops – most festivals will allow small sealed bottles into the arena. It’s also essential, unless your contacts are specifically designed for overnight use, to take them out before going to sleep, even if it is just for a few hours. Your optometrist can advise if ‘extended wear lenses’, which can be slept in, are suitable for your eyes.”
Brendan continued: “Some festivals will throw up situations, for example swimming in a lake or taking a dip in a hot tub, that run high risks of your contact lenses coming into contact with the water born microorganism Acanthamoeba, a nasty little organism which can get trapped between your contact lens and eye and cause a serious infection. Most contact lens users will be aware of this but it can be easy to forget when on holiday. If an activity seems risky think ‘Would I do this at home?’ and, if not, either take your lenses out or avoid it. It’s always better to be safe, especially when you have an event to enjoy and you’re away from home.
“Finally if you are concerned about any discomfort on your return home, visit your local optometrist who should be your first port of call if you have any eye concerns. They can assess the problem and, if necessary, refer you to the right place for treatment. However if you have a red and painful eye, that needs immediate medical attention and you should visit the medical facilities at the festival.”
Brendan has advised on seven festival essentials for contact lens wearers:
Contact lenses wear and care
The festival season is a time when people may experiment with different types of zero-powered cosmetic lenses. Also known as ‘non-prescription’ or ‘plano’ lenses, cosmetic lenses are designed to change the appearance or colour of the eyes. As with all contact lenses, cosmetic lenses should only be bought from a reputable supplier. Illegal lenses may result in serious infections and cause damage to the eyes. It’s important to follow the advice given by your optometrist or optician to ensure good hygiene, handling, and wear and care of your lenses.
What makes a child’s eye look so bright and young? Apart from the lack of wrinkles, the whites of the eyes are more blue-white and the pupil is larger than an adult’s. Over the years, the whites of your eye thicken and change to yellow-white as an effect of time and UV exposure. Your pupil gets smaller and the coloured part of the eye, the iris, looks less defined around the edge, too. If you’re entering your mid-to-late forties and you’ve had a history of good distance vision, you may find yourself complaining about magazine print getting smaller. Inexplicably, you’ll also be grumbling about the lack of good music in the ‘pop’ charts. After a period of denial, you’ll (hopefully) head to the optometrist who’ll prescribe reading glasses.
The change is known as presbyopia and no, it’s not contagious. It’s a normal effect from the ageing of the lens in the eye, which gradually becomes stiffer. To focus close up, you need to flex the lens into a different shape using a muscle. That muscle is still working, but it’s trying to pull on the stiffer material, which is why you can’t exercise the problem away. So while good lighting will make reading a little easier, the simplest solution is to wear glasses or contact lenses.
Benjamin Franklin famously said: ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes’. He could have added: ‘…except death, taxes and cataracts’
Benjamin Franklin famously said: ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes’. He could have added: ‘…except death, taxes and cataracts’. Cataracts are a normal ageing change of the eye and you’ll certainly get them if you live long enough. The term cataracts is used to describe any kind of opacity or clouding in the lens of the eye, which gradually yellows and hardens and eventually becomes cloudy. The good news is it can be sorted by a surgeon in about 15 minutes under local anaesthetic. The cloudy lens is removed and a lovely clear one put in, made to your prescription.
After surgery, most people will also notice colours looking more vivid especially blue. If you’re on the cataract surgery waiting list and thinking of changing your home décor, you might want to hang on until after the op’ – I once had a patient who returned home from cataract surgery horrified by the garish colour she’d chosen for the hall carpet.
Another eye condition that can affect older people is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It’s a disease of the central part of the retina, called the macula and makes the central vision blurred or distorted. There’s some evidence that good nutrition can help lower your risk of developing it, so eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale along with other fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet.
In the absence of a rewind-life button, is there anything else you can you do about all this? Good sunglasses will offer protection from UV rays, which are partly responsible for ageing of the eye. And don’t even think about smoking; it is an eye health disaster. Quit now. Get help.
The risk of getting an eye disease increases the older you get, so don’t wait until you notice a problem with your vision to have an eye examination. Optometrists can pick up health problems and eye diseases you were unaware of and it’s a lot easier to treat eye disease in the early stages.
Read more about eye conditions, and don’t forget to ask your optometrist. They’re a mine of useful information.
It is well known that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight can damage our skin but did you know that it can also damage our eyes? Yes, even on a cloudy day, UV radiation is all around us and there is the potential for that damage to occur.
Exposure to high doses of UV light over short periods can cause a very painful condition called photokeratitis. This is an inflammation of the cornea on the front surface of the eye. Essentially it is ‘sunburn of the eyes’, but thankfully the effects of photokeratitis are short-term. However, we may not be aware of the long-term effects of UV radiation because they are painless and develop gradually over a lifetime’s exposure to UV radiation. On the outer areas of the eyes, possible complications include skin cancers of the eyelid and discoloured swellings on the whites of your eyes known as pinguecula and pterygium. Within your eyes, UV damage may increase your risk of sight threatening conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
The good news is that you can shield your eyes from this damage. As well as sunglasses, you can opt for clear prescription spectacle lenses with UV protection. Essilor Crizal UV lenses offer your eyes protection against damaging UV light from both the front and back surfaces of the lens. They provide the wearer with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 25, meaning that they are 25 times better protected against UV than without lenses.
For further information about Crizal UV lenses please feel free to contact us on 028 66322524 or visit us in store.
Anti-reflective coatings are one of the most important choices you can make when choosing your lenses. They reduce the amount glare or reflections that you normally experience with standard untreated lenses.
With fewer reflections more light passes through the lens to your eyes producing crisper, clearer vision.
The anti-reflective coating that we recommend, Crizal Forte UV, provides additional benefits as outlined below.
Safer Night-Time Driving
The anti-reflective coating on Crizal Forte UV lenses means that the glare from oncoming headlights is significantly reduced when driving at night.
Reduces Eye Strain When Using Computers
Crizal Forte UV lenses are designed to reduce glare from computer screens, preventing the eyes from becoming tired and fatigued.
Protects Your Eyes from the Sun
Crizal lenses offer 25 times more protection from harmful UV rays than a standard lens. UV rays not only increase the risk of developing cataracts, they also cause premature ageing of the skin around your eyes.
Crizal Forte UV lenses offer a new anti-scratch finish – fewer scratches means clearer vision.
Easier to Clean
Crizal Forte UV lenses are designed to repel oil and dirt resulting in less fingerprints and smudges.
Crizal lenses have a unique water-repellent surface, preventing them from misting up and collecting water. Instead water forms into small droplets and slides off the lens quickly and easily.
We are now offering new and existing patients a special offer of a complimentary second pair of spectacle lenses with every purchase of Crizal. It’s a great opportunity to get two new pairs of glasses at a greatly reduced price.
For expert advice combined with a great offer, call McBride and McCreesh Opticians today to book an appointment on 028 66 322524.
You may find it hard to believe that fat is essential to your health, but it’s true. Without fat, our bodies can’t function properly. And without the proper kinds of fats in our diet, our eye health also may suffer.
Fatty acids are the “building blocks” of fat. These important nutrients are critical for the normal production and functioning of cells, muscles, nerves and organs. Fatty acids also are required for the production of hormone-like compounds that help regulate blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting. Some fatty acids — called essential fatty acids (EFAs) — are necessary to our diet, because our body can’t produce them. To stay healthy, we must obtain these fatty acids from our food.
Two types of EFAs are omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, may benefit eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicoapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Several studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. Essential fatty acids also may help proper drainage of intraocular fluid from the eye, decreasing the risk of high eye pressure and glaucoma.
In a large European study published in 2008, participants who ate oily fish (an excellent source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids) at least once per week had half the risk of developing neovascular (“wet”) macular degeneration, compared with those who ate fish less than once per week.
Also, a 2009 National Eye Institute (NEI) study that used data obtained from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found participants who reported the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were 30 percent less likely than their peers to develop macular degeneration during a 12-year period.
Omega-3 fatty acids also have been found to reduce the risk of dry eyes. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84, those with the highest ratio of (potentially harmful) omega-6 fatty acids to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in their diet (15-to-1) had a significantly greater risk of dry eye syndrome, compared with the women with the lowest ratio (less than 4-to-1). The study also found that the women who ate at least two servings of tuna per week had significantly less risk of dry eye than women who ate one or fewer servings per week.
While both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important to health, the balance of these two types of EFAs in our diet is extremely important. Most experts believe the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in a healthy diet should be 4-to-1 or lower. Many eye specialists recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of eye problems.
Unfortunately, the typical Irish diet, characterized by significant amounts of meat and processed foods, tends to contain 10 to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance of omega-6 (“bad”) fatty acids to omega-3 (“good”) fatty acids appears to be a contributing cause of a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression.
One of the best steps you can take to improve your diet is to eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fewer that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
The best food sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, which are high in both DHA and EPA. Examples include sardines, herring, salmon and tuna. Wild-caught varieties usually are better than “farmed” fish, which typically are subject to higher levels of pollutants and chemicals.
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of two servings of cold-water fish weekly to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and many eye doctors likewise recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of eye problems.
If you aren’t a fish lover, another way to make sure your diet contains enough omega-3s it to take fish oil supplements. These are available in capsule and liquid form, and many varieties feature a “non-fishy” taste.
Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. However, your body cannot process the ALA omega-3 fatty acids from these vegetarian sources as easily as the DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
To reduce your intake of omega-6s, avoid fried and highly processed foods. Many cooking oils, including sunflower oil and corn oil, are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. High cooking temperatures also create harmful trans-fatty acids, or “trans-fats.”
Trans fats interfere with the body’s absorption of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and may contribute to a number of serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and immune system disorders.
Currently, there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for omega-3 fatty acids. But, according to the American Heart Association, research suggests daily intakes of DHA and EPA (combined) ranging from 500 milligrams (0.5 gram) to 1.8 grams (either from fish or fish oil supplements) significantly reduces cardiac risks. For ALA, daily intakes of 1.5 to 3 grams (g) seem to be beneficial.
February 2015 — Taking daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements could help relieve your dry eyes associated with computer use, according to a study. The study participants were 456 computer users in India who complained of dry eyes and who used a computer for more than three hours a day for at least one year.
Subjects in one group (220) were given two capsules of omega-3 fatty acids, each containing 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA, to supplement their daily diet; subjects in the other group (236) were given two capsules of a placebo containing olive oil for daily use. Each group took the daily supplements for three months.
At the end of the three-month trial, a survey of the participants revealed dry eye symptoms diminished after dietary intervention with omega-3 fatty acids, and use of the omega-3 supplements also reduced abnormal tear evaporation. The omega-3 supplements also increased the density of conjunctival goblet cells on the surface of the eye. These cells secrete substances that lubricate the eye during blinks, stabilize the tear film and reduce dryness.
The study authors concluded that orally administered omega-3 fatty acid supplements can alleviate dry eye symptoms, slow tear evaporation, and improve signs of a healthy eye surface in patients suffering from dry eyes related to computer vision syndrome.
A report of this study was published online this month by the journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye. — G.H.
The factual content of this article is from literature originally written by Mr Gary Heiting (Ophthalmogist in US and senior editor of AllAboutVision.com.)
Omega Eye, by Scope Ophthalmics, is in a natural triglyceride form which means it is very pure and a very high proportion is absorbed by the body compared to many other, cheaper products on the market. It also contains a therapeutic dose of the beneficial components EPA and DHA unlike 99% of the other Omega supplements on the market. It has no side effects and is just like eating a piece of fish but without the harmful toxins!
Omega Eye capsules provides 2.6 grams of omega-3 per daily dose. 84% of this omega-3 is in EPA and DHA form, and subsequently can offer the patient the correct amount of omega-3 in the right form in four capsules per day, therefore offering a therapeutic dose (four capsules).
With most other omega-3 supplements you cannot reach therapeutic levels from their recommended daily dosing as the levels of omega-3 in the form of EPA and DHA are not high enough.
For more information on Omega Eye or any of our eye care products or accessories, please call McBride and McCreesh Opticians on 028 66 32254.