What is blue light? And how does it affect your eyes? If you think of the visible, white light we see as made up of all the colors in the rainbow, blue light has shorter wavelengths and more energy than warmer light. In general, the whiter the light appears, the higher amount of higher-wavelength blue light is entering your eyes.
The largest source of blue light is sunlight. In addition, there are many other sources, including fluorescent and LED light, as well as the light emitted from computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens.
Almost all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. The good news is that blue light is what helps you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (your natural waking/sleeping cycle). It helps keep you alert, lifts your mood, and sharpens your thinking and memory. And kids need blue light for the healthy development of their eyes.
However, most of us get too much blue light from long hours on, and proximity to, our computer screens and digital devices. This could adversely affect vision and prematurely age the eyes. Early research shows that too much exposure to blue light could lead to:
Digital eyestrain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast, leading to digital eyestrain. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.
Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration. And, according to a recent study funded by the National Eye Institute, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens.
If constant exposure to blue light from smartphones, tablets, and computer screens is an issue, there are a few ways to decrease exposure to blue light:
Filters: Screen filters are available for smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.They shift the colors of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, reducing the blue light that reaches your retina.
Computer glasses: Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease computer digital eye strain by increasing contrast.
Anti-reflective lenses: Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare and increase contrast and also block blue light from the sun and digital devices.
Intraocular lens (IOL): Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens with an intraocular lens (IOL). These lenses can naturally protect your eye and retina from almost all ultraviolet light and some blue light.
Keeping your eyes healthy today will actually save on future healthcare costs. Call Takle Eye Group and talk to us about your options to protect your eyes from blue light. Our trained specialists can direct you toward the best eye protection for any activity.
Omega-3s are a nutrient powerhouse, and two kinds, in particular, are vitally important for eye health: DHA and EPA. The concentration of DHA in the retina is dramatically higher than in any other tissue. In fact about 60 percent of the lipids in the retina are DHA. They make your cell membranes more fluid, which helps brain, eye, and nerve cells function better. Yet most Americans only get 100 mg a day of DHA/EPA, far short of the recommended 250 mg.
Research done as far back as the mid 1990s showed that people with higher levels of DHA in their blood had a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Subsequent research showed that people who consume higher amounts of EPA and DHA have about a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of developing AMD.
There are three main ways you can get DHA/EPA in your diet: by eating foods with naturally occurring DHA/EPA, by eating foods fortified with DHA/EPA or by taking a supplement. Here’s how much you get from various food sources:
- Fish: Wild cold-water fishmake DHA/EPA from the algae they eat, and it’s coupled with fat, which aids its absorption and effectiveness. Per 4-oz. serving you get 2,085 mg from salmon, 1,110 mg from sardines, and 305 mg from light tuna.
- Flax seeds: One ounce of flax seeds packs in 6,388 mg of Omega 3 (nearly 6 times the RDA). You get 1,655 mg of Omega-6 in the process, which helps keep your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios in check. To get an even bigger boost, you can take a tablespoon of flax oil which delivers 7,196 mg of Omega-3. Great news for vegans!
All sorts of foods have been adding Omega-3s lately, from orange juice to bread.
- Eggs:Chickens turn some of the Omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA. One large egg can contain 30 to 150 mg Omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA).
- Milk:Some brands of milk add fish oil or algal oil to give a DHA/EPA boost (don’t worry, you can’t taste it!). One cup of fortified milk delivers 30 to 50 mg of DHA/EPA.
- Peanut butter:Like milk, some brands are adding fish oil. A 2-tablespoon serving provides 32 mg DHA/EPA.
If you’re not getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, you can opt for a supplement, like fish oil pills. There is no shortage of Omega-3 supplements out there, but they vary greatly in quality and effectiveness. Look for supplements with high amounts of DHA/EPA and at least 500 to 1,000 mg of fish oil. Avoid mercury, PCBs, and filler ingredients.
At Takle Eye Group, we appreciate the opportunity to support you in maintaining your eye health through a healthy lifestyle and regular exams. Call us to schedule yours!
People are relying on apps more than ever to monitor and analyze their own health and well-being. So it’s not surprising to find apps that allow you to check your own vision and even order your own contacts online. Of course, before you can take an online vision test, you’ll see a disclaimer, stating that they are “not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.” But can an app actually replace your annual trip to the eye doctor?
Vision testing apps are a form of “telemedicine” that was originally developed as a quick way to screen for disease or illness. Moreover, if you have a fairly routine prescription, some of the apps have actually proven to be fairly accurate at determining your prescription. And for early detection, especially in remote places where conventional medical attention isn’t available, or for those who can’t afford basic eye care, telemedicine may be the best option – because it’s the only option.
However, even if an app declares that you have 20/20 vision, here are 7 reasons why you’ll still want a qualified human being to look you in the eyes:
- Your eye health goes far beyond your prescription. Even if you have good vision, there are things that are detected through a comprehensive eye exam that have nothing to do with your prescription. At Takle Eye Group, when we perform a comprehensive eye exam, we’re looking at the overall health of your eye. We check your eye pressure; we check your corneas, lenses, and retinas. Online exams cannot detect the medical well-being of your eyes.
- Your eyes are spherical. Vision apps take a picture of only the posterior pole (this includes some of the blood vessels, optic nerve and the macula). These pictures only show a small part of the eye. Our trained Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, examine the anterior and posterior of your eye. Patients with an astigmatism or who have higher than a -6.50 prescription need to have their eyes dilated yearly. Dilation is the only way to make sure that there is nothing abnormal happening in the back of the eye.
- You wear contacts. Contact lenses are a medical device, and how they fit on your cornea can change from year to year. In addition, many contact lens wearers get so used to their contacts that they don’t follow all the guidelines: They sleep in their contacts, wear them too long without replacing them, and wear them too many hours in the day. Doing these things can cause corneal ulcers, inflammation or swelling of the cornea, infections, etc. This swelling can change your prescription and can be detected with a slit lamp during an exam. That’s something online exams simply can’t do. If you rely solely on an “eye exam” on an app and order contacts without having an eye doctor monitor the changing condition of your eyes, you’re putting your eyes at risk and potentially causing permanent vision loss.
- Your prescription needs a major change. Making huge jumps in a prescription is often uncomfortable, making it tempting not to wear those new glasses. At Takle Eye Group, we can adjust your prescription gradually to allow your eyes to adapt, maintaining your vision at the best it can be, every step of the way.
- You have diabetes. Patients with diabetes can have bleeding in any part of the eye, and patients who are having symptoms of flashes, floaters, and narrowing of periphery (signs of retinal detachments, holes, and tears) need to have their eyes examined by a professional. If you have suffered a retinal detachment or tear, you risk permanent vision loss or even blindness without professional care.
- You’re a child. Apps are not a suitable way to check eyesight in children. The wrong eyeglass prescription could affect the way their eyes develop.
- Diagnosis is not science alone; it’s also art. Apps are designed to provide a “yes or no” answer, but it takes a doctor to perceive a potential problem or assess the degree of an existing one. Even advanced diagnostic equipment can under-detect or even fail to detect certain medical conditions, which can give a false sense of security to patients who may already be experiencing symptoms of a disease. Our Ophthalmologists use our experience and judgement to interpret the findings of our equipment, and discover, diagnose, and treat conditions that advanced equipment fails to detect.
So, while strides in telemedicine have facilitated diagnosis and care in remote areas where secondary care is not that accessible, apps and online vision tests are no replacement for regular eye exams. Only your doctor can detect sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma or diabetes retinopathy. At Takle Eye Group, ensuring your best vision is our only focus.