Archive | December, 2009

Sharon Kleyne Talks with an Optometrist who Specializes in Computer Vision Syndrome.

23 Dec

Larry Wan, DO, is an Optometrist in San Jose, California, specializing in computer vision syndrome. Here is an excerpt from his interview on the Sharon Kleyne Hour syndicated talk radio show on September 14, 2009 (www.modavox.worldtalkradio.com). Continue reading

Sharon Kleyne Talks about Dry Eye with a Leading Ophthalmologist and LASIK Surgeon

22 Dec

Philip Paden, MD, Chief of Staff of an Ophthalmology and LASIK surgery clinic in Medford, Oregon and Medical Director for Bio-Logic Aqua Research. He is an authority of computer vision syndrome, dry eye and preventive eye health.

Sharon: Could you talk a little about eye health?

Dr. Paden: Most people would rather be deaf or crippled than blind. Sight is extremely precious to us. Interestingly, our eyes are about the same as they were 100,000 years ago. However, our environment had changed drastically so that far greater demands are made on them. This change is mostly in three areas:

  1. We live much longer. Instead of living to 30 or 40, we typically live to 80 or 90. That means our eyes are more likely to wear out. Problems with the cornea and retina often need to be repaired, and the delicate glands that produce the tears begin to fail.
  2. We are subjected to city air, with its high ozone and particulate pollution, inversion layers, etc., which are dehydrating and irritating to the eyes.
  3. Indoor air is also dehydrating and irritating. Technologically controlled environments were supposed to be the final word, but we ended up with forced-air heating and cooling, insulated walls and window, and a myriad of chemicals. There is often no fresh air from the outside, dust and bacteria are re-circulated, and the humidity can get dangerously low.

Sharon Kleyne Talks about Computer Vision Syndrome with a Pioneering Ophthalmologist

14 Dec

Marguerite McDonald, MD, is credited with performing the world’s first LASER eye surgery in 1981. Today, Dr. McDonald is internationally famous and dedicated to eye health education. She was interviewed on the Sharon Kleyne Hour radio talk show (www.modavox/worldtalkradio.com) on October 15, 2007.

Sharon: Do you have any recommendations about vision and computers?

Marguerite: Yes! The average blink rate for your eyes is 20-30 times per minute. When working at a computer, the rate drops to 3-5 times per minute. This can cause situational dry eye even if your vision is perfect.

S: Have you encountered computer vision syndrome in your practice?

M: Frequently. Symptoms are drowsiness, eyes that burn or itch, and blurred vision. Fluctuating vision is also a symptom, where you strain and blink to pull your vision into focus.

S: Have you been approached by companies who have many computer operators?

M: A few times. My primary recommendation is that they move the desk chair up or the computer down so there is a 15-20 degree angle between the eye and the screen, with the screen lower. That way, eyelids are partially closed when viewing the screen. I also recommend taking a break every 45 minutes, preferably spent looking at far objects.

S: Could you go over the symptoms of dry eye again?

M: Redness, fluctuating vision, slight itching, drowsiness, the need to press down on your eyelids. Excessive tearing can also be a symptom. Eyes are usually OK in the morning but as they get dryer during the day, tiny ulcerations develop on the cornea, which causes reflex tearing. The tearing often goes away after ten minutes. Reflex tears protect eyes from infection and improve vision but it is far better if your regular baseline tears do this.

Sharon Kleyne Talks about Computer Vision Syndrome with a Leading Dry Eye Specialist

11 Dec

Dr. Robert Latkany is an ophthalmologist from New York City who is the only doctor devoting his entire medical practice to the study and treatment of dry eye symptoms. His 2007 book, The Dry Eye Remedy, is available through Hatherleigh Press and elsewhere.

Sharon: Could you talk for a minute about dry eye as an occupational health risk?

Robert: Sure. The primary concern among eye doctors is about workers who spend all day at the computer. They tend to stare at the screen and not blink nearly enough. Insufficient blinking can be a major factor causing dry eye. If you don’t blink enough, your “blink muscles” weaken, which makes your eyes even more dry.

S: In my research, I’ve found that many environmental factors that can dry out the tear film. The indoor environment, whether at home or in the office, is especially challenging. Forced air heating and cooling and all sorts of household chemicals can dry the eyes. I’ve always recommended setting out bowls of water in the house or office, or keeping a window opened, although outside air can also be dry and polluted.

R: Or purchase a humidifier – and an air purifier.

S: Do you find that people too often take their eyes for granted?

R: Definitely. Not enough people realize that care and prevention are far better than having to fix the damage later on. The bottom line is that dry eye is here to stay and gets worse with age.

Road-Bleary Eyes

8 Dec

It happens to everybody. You’re driving your car on a long road trip and suddenly your eyes start burning and you can’t keep them opened. You start nodding off, and sensing imminent disaster, you quickly pull off the road and take a nap. In an hour or so, you continue on your way, feeling much better.

But what would you do if you were an airline pilot and that happened? Or a tank driver during a war? Or an ambulance driver rushing to the hospital?

Actually, the cause may not be fatigue. Often, the cause is a reduction in the moisture content of the delicate tear film covering the external surface of your eyeballs. Pollution, heat, fatigue, car air-conditioning, and intense concentration (with not enough blinking), can all cause tear film moisture loss. Loss of tear film moisture increases the concentration of salts and other natural substances resulting in the familiar burning sensation. When you take a nap, your eyes are closed and your body is able to restore the depleted moisture.

The solution: Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water (which will also help assure that you pull over and rest occasionally), make sure you blink often enough, and keep a pH Balanced water mist spray nearby as you drive.

Take Eye Makeup Off Before Bedtime

2 Dec

University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Hilary Beaver, MD
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Science

If you use eye makeup, such as mascara, eye liner and eye shadow, remember to remove it before going to sleep, cautions an eye specialist in the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology.

This caution might seem unnecessary or inconvenient, but when you are tired, removing your makeup may be forgotten or postponed until morning, says Dr. Hilary Beaver, assistant professor of comprehensive services in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Removing eye makeup before sleeping is important. If eye makeup is not removed daily there is an increased possibility of an allergic reaction or contact irritation. Repeated application over irritated skin will increase the subsequent skin reaction.

An allergic reaction to eye makeup usually occurs on the thin, delicate skin around the eye, she explains. Should makeup particles fall into the eye, that, too, could lead to an allergic reaction.

Redness in the eye is one symptom of such allergic reactions, especially if the redness is accompanied by itching and pain, Beaver says.

“It’s more difficult to locate the cause of the allergic reaction if a person uses different brands of mascara, eye liner and eye shadow.”

If more than one brand of eye makeup is used, you might try the same one for several days in a row and keep a diary of symptoms. This may help narrow down the likely form and brand of eye makeup that is causing the allergic reaction, Beaver suggests.

Another possible solution is to try a hypoallergenic brand of eye makeup. The UI clinician notes that hypoallergenic makeup has ingredients that have been found to cause fewer allergic reactions in people.

If changing brands does not eliminate the allergy symptoms, you might wish to consult a physician, Beaver says.

Air Conditioning and Eyesight

2 Dec

It is hard to imagine that prior to the 1940’s, and going all the way back to the dawn of time, people just toughed out the summer heat (except the lucky few who lived in caves). At the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it is probable that John Hancock and the guys, in their elegant eighteenth century clothing, were drenched with perspiration. They didn’t bathe that regularly, either, because their water was all drawn from hand pumps.

Air-conditioning offers obvious health benefits for those with heart conditions, pollen allergies and skin problems exacerbated by sweating. It does, however, pose a few problems. For one thing, it moves air around, which tends to whip up dead skin particles (“H.flora”) and bacteria that can spread disease and cause eye and skin dehydration and itching. Also, constant wind from the air-conditioner can make beneficial moisture evaporate more rapidly from skin and eyes. And air-conditioning causes air to lose humidity (cooler air is not capable of holding as much moisture as warmer air—hence the condensation on the outside of the air conditioner), so the resulting air is not only cooler but drier.

Natural air exchange is important in all seasons because outdoor air is usually “fresher” and contains fewer bacteria than indoor air. It’s a good idea to turn the air-conditioning off once in a while in summer, open the windows and let an exhaust fan scour out the air in your house (not a bad idea in winter, either).

Blepharitis and Dry Eye

1 Dec

By Sharon Kleyne, Research Director, Bio-Logic Aqua Research

Inflammation plays a central role in dry eye. One type of inflammation strongly associated with dry eye is Blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation. The majority of blepharitis patients also have dry eye symptoms. Blepharitis has many causes, but the lipid secreting meibomian glands, located within the eyelid, are almost always involved. Lipid production is critical to a properly hydrated eye because lipids trap and seal tear film moisture, preventing evaporation.

Three types of blepharitis
(1) Obstructive. This condition is marked by hardening (hyperkeratinization) of the eyelid margin and the meibomian gland ducts within the eyelid. The flow of lipids produced by the meibomian glands are not only obstructed but the lipids are thicker. Individuals with obstructive blepharitis exhibit high tear film evaporation, low tear flow and other dry eye symptoms. Eyelid examination could reveal missing glands that had previously been obstructed and were subsequently absorbed.
(2) Seborrheic. Individuals with seborrheic dermatitis (patches of red, inflamed skin caused by overproduction in the skin’s sebaceous or oil glands), often exhibit seborrheic blepharitis as well, marked by increased (rather than decreased) lipid production from the meibomian glands. Eyelid examination reveals normal morphology of the meibomian glands. However, patients with seborrheic blepharitis have dry eye more frequently than the normal population.
(3) Bacterial. Bacterial overgrowth on the eyelid margin also creates inflammation and contributes to eyelid hardening, causing meibomian gland obstruction. All eyelids have bacterial flora. Genetic mechanisms are also a factor since the level of free cholesterol partly determines the nature and extent of bacterial overgrowth.

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Minimizing Computer Vision Syndrome

1 Dec

Since your blink reflex decreases dramatically while working at a computer, moisture evaporation from the tear film increases, causing dry eye symptoms. The following will help keep eyes moist and comfortable:
1. Keep a bowl of water near your desk to humidify the air.
2. Sip bottled water while you work.
3. Position yourself so you are looking down at the screen. This keeps upper eyelids low, exposing less eye surface to the air.
4. Make a conscious effort to blink more often. Try taping a reminder to the computer.
5. Several times per hour, look around the room at objects of varying distances from the computer.
6. Take regular breaks away from your desk (outdoors if possible).
7. To reduce glare, position your computer so windows are at the side of your computer.
8. Adjust blinds that sunlight is away from your screen and eyes.
9. Turn off overhead lights that are too bright, or switch to lower wattage bulbs or a desk lamp.
10. Attach a glare-blocking hood or filter to your monitor.
11. An eye care professional can prescribe special “computer glasses.”
12. Open a window to let in humid air from the outside.
13. Set the REFRESH RATE on your monitor as high as you can. For Windows PC, right click on the opening screen (no programs running), then go to “properties-settings-advanced-monitor-refresh.”
14. Take long, luxuriant showers every day that allows plenty of steam and moisture to penetrate your eyes (“healthy at home = healthy at work”).
15. If you live where the air is dry or polluted, following these tips is even more important.