News and Resources

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February 5, 2020 ArticleTips

In 2018, news outlets across the country began reporting on the negative effects blue light can have on your eyes. The alarmist articles claimed that blue light was more dangerous than previously thought, and was the source of everything from premature blindness to macular degeneration. These articles spurned a panic among the general public, as people realized that blue light was everywhere they looked, from their televisions to their smartphones. Seemingly overnight, this frenzy birthed new industries in blue light mitigation, such as ‘smart glasses’ and phone covers that reduced blue light. Everywhere you went, you heard about how terrible blue light was for your eyes. 

 

However, the general public’s fear of blue light was unwarranted, and the hysteria unfounded. The articles that vilified blue light fundamentally misunderstood the very research paper they quoted. They cited dangers out of context and associated results without understanding the science behind them.

 

Understanding light

Light is a complicated topic, but a general background is necessary to understand blue light, and how it affects you. Without getting too deep into the physics of it, light is a type of energy in the form of a spectrum of wavelengths. This spectrum includes both visible and invisible forms of light. In this spectrum, the human eye has a specific range of frequencies that it can perceive, which makes up visible light. Lower frequencies and longer wavelengths result in what we perceive as red, orange and yellow, whereas higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths become blue, indigo and violet. There is an inverse relationship between wavelength and the amount of energy they contain. The longer wavelengths of red and orange contain less energy than the shorter wavelengths of blue and violet. Even shorter wavelengths become invisible and carry even more energy. These are known as ultraviolet rays or ultraviolet radiation.

 

UV rays aren’t inherently bad, but they do have a noticeable effect on the body. Though they are the source of sunburn, in moderation they help the body manufacture vitamin D and make you feel more alert and awake. Visible light with shorter wavelengths such as blue and violet can have similar effects.

 

Most light that we encounter every day is white light. White light is the entire spectrum of visible light, including blue light, combined at equal intensity, such as sunlight, or incandescent bulbs. Sunlight will always be the largest source of everyday interaction with blue light. However, with the advent of LED technology, we’re becoming more exposed to lopsided white light, with a greater intensity of blue light. The vast majority of LED screens incorporate more blue light with other colors to produce a brighter picture. This is why smartphone and tablet screens are considered blue light, even though they’re a near insignificant source when compared to sunlight. It’s this increase of blue light that caused the media frenzy of 2018.

 

The research

The reason blue light is considered damaging came from a misunderstanding of research out of the University of Toledo. The researchers were specifically measuring the effect blue light has on retinal, an important chemical in the eye. While they came to the conclusion that blue light can have a negative impact on retinal, saying that blue light causes blindness is an oversimplification. The experiment measured the effect of blue light exclusively on the chemical retinal, and not how an actual eye responds to blue light. The retinal cells were not exposed to blue light the same way they would have been in a natural setting. It was a controlled environment, measuring an isolated cause and effect. In short, while scientifically sound, the research could not be directly translated to blue light’s effect on eyesight. However, news outlets took that conclusion and considered its causation.

 

If not blue light, then what?

After staring at a screen for several hours, your eyes often hurt and you can feel discomfort. While this is usually associated with blue light, as we’ve learned, that is not the case. While people typically blink around 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink about a third as often while focusing on screens. This causes eyes to dry and general discomfort. Furthermore, while blue light is notably not a cause of premature blindness, its effects shouldn’t be disregarded. Blue light does mimic the effects of sunlight such as increased alertness, which can have an effect on circadian rhythm. It is suggested that you try and reduce your exposure to screens for two to three hours before bed.


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January 25, 2019 Tips

The winter season is in full swing! While that comes with many wonderful white, snowy sceneries and fun-filled holidays, it also comes with increased cold and flu symptoms. This can make it extremely important to look after your health during this time of year. There’s another part of your body you need to think about protecting, your eyes.

How the winter affects your eyes

 Our most precious sense is often under attack during the winter season in more ways than one. For instance, snow and ice is extremely reflective. This means the sun’s UV rays can reach your eyes from both below and above you, which puts you at greater risk for damaging your eyes. Additionally, in extreme weather, you might find it hard to fully open your eyes while also feeling a burning sensation. In conditions like this, it is possible for your cornea to freeze, which can be very painful and lead to issues with light sensitivity and blurry vision. Another common winter eye issue is excessive tearing; excessive tearing can cause your vision to become blurry which is a common, yet frustrating issue.

One of the most common winter eye issues though is dry eye. Cold temperatures can cause your eyes to lose their natural moisture and become dry, leaving them sore and uncomfortable. Although this condition is not usually serious, there are easy steps you can take to ease your discomfort and keep your eyes healthy this winter!

 

Common symptoms of dry eye

Watch for these common warning signs of dry eye:

  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Irritated, scratchy feeling
  • Glassy luster to the eye, blurred vision

 

Tips for protecting your eyes in winter

Treating your eyes right in the winter can be easy! Follow these tips in order to make sure your eyes are as healthy as possible this season:

Lower the temperature in rooms. High temperatures can cause your tears to evaporate, causing dry eye.

Wear sunglasses! If you’re spending time outdoors on a cold, windy day, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from dryness, harmful UV light, and burning eyes.

Drink more fluids. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to help your body fight off dry eyes. Consider increasing your daily intake of fluids during the winter months.

Use a warm washcloth. A warm, damp compress can actually help your eyes with tear secretion. Do this for two to three minutes per eye to help your eyes create moisture and become less irritated.

Use eye drops. Over the counter or prescription, eye drops can significantly reduce the symptoms of dry eye.

 

If you still can’t seem to kick your dry eye, make an appointment with us online or call us at (614) 451-7550. At Northwest Eye Surgeons, your healthy eyes are our priority.


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May 20, 2017 Tips

Moms-to-be know their bodies are going to go through a lot of changes over their pregnancy.  Many do not realize that their vision can also be affected.

Blood pressure, water retention, and hormone changes can all affect vision for a short amount of time. Fluid retention can even affect the shape of the cornea, changing how vision is seen through glasses and contacts. It is common for women to end up more nearsighted than before.

Below, are 5 ways to help keep moms-to-be eyes in good shape.

  1. Dry Eye: Make sure to ask your doctor before using any over-the-counter solutions. Some solutions could include ingredients that are not good to use during pregnancy. For contacts, try wearing your glasses every other day to help reduce dryness. Even simply blinking more can help.
  2. Puffiness: Puffiness can be caused by retaining water. A cold washcloth or ice pack placed on closed eyes can very helpful to reduce swelling. It is also helpful to splash cold water onto your face. Increase the amount of water you drink to help lower water retention. You can also reduce the amount of caffeine and sodium you intake.
  3. Tell Your Doctor: Let us know! If you have an appointment scheduled with us during your pregnancy, let us know ahead of time. The doctor may choose not to dilate you at this time.
  4. Extra Eye Exams:If you happen to be diabetic, pregnancy can increase the effects. It is a good idea to have your eyes checked more often.
  5. Glaucoma: Eye pressure can also be affected by pregnancy, possibly even for the better. You may be able to lower your prescription drug dosage, which is overall better for your pregnancy.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You can reach us at (614) 451 – 7550.


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