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Today Is World Sight Day – Be Informed!

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The Vision Council will join hundreds of other health, business and vision-related organizations in celebrating World Sight Day on Thursday, October 10, 2013. The goal of this global initiative is to focus attention on vision impairment and encourage adults and children across the world to get their eyes examined.

Did you know that UV radiation is not only harmful to our skin, but our eyes too. The first thing that  I think of when UV and sunburn is mentioned is you have to remember to protect your skin. But your eyes can get sunburn too, adults and children.

Research shows that more than 40% of parents do not proactively ensure their children wear UV protective sunglasses – the most effective tool for blocking damaging UVA and UVB rays.

While I understood that vision safety is important, I did not realize just how important. Earlier this week I had the privilege of being part of a chat through The Motherhood  with  The Vision Council. We were able to speak with Desiree Carrillo-Owen, OD. She is Medical Adviser for The Vision Council and Optometrist, North Shore Eye Center in Chicago, IL.

Right away I learned that our eyes are the strongest muscle. It can process 36,000 bits of information an hour! That is a lot but it makes sense when you think about everything you look at during an hour.

Our vision is so much more than just seeing. Vision directly impacts our independence, quality of life, and even our ability to work and learn. Approximately 80% of what our children learn comes through their eyes. And for the 25% of children who suffer vision problems, the inability to see a whiteboard or read a textbook can affect not only their education but also their social development and self-confidence.

UV radiation is around all the time. No matter what the season it is important to wear sunglasses. Typically people think of sunglasses only being worn when it is sunny and warm. During the winter months the sun can bounce off of snow into your eyes.

I try to make sure my family wears sunglasses when they go outside, but I am going to work harder to be more on top of it.

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My son and husband wear sunglasses a lot during the summer because they go fishing all the time. My prescription glasses have transition lenses which turn them into sunglasses when I go outside. I love that about them because I would forget to grab my sunglasses whenever I leave the house.

When it comes to purchasing sunglasses, remember this:

  • Look for a sticker or label indicating UVA/UVB protection
  • Buy from a credible source
  • Choose a pair that you like, and that are comfortable
  • Keep sunglasses accessible

Digital Eye Strain

Last year, The Vision Council found that 70 percent of adults experience some form of digital eye strain while using their devices. Adults and children are spending more time in front of digital screens. Prolonged time on digital devices tires and fatigues our eyes. Symptoms include dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, back and neck pain

How to prevent Digital Eye Strain

Use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make sure to clean your screen often. Reduce exterior and overhead lighting to avoid glare and keep your distance from the screen (20-24 inches). Position your computer 10-15 degrees below eye level and talk to you doctor about purchasing computer eyewear.

We covered a lot on the topic of  vision health. I want to share with you some of the questions and answered discussed during the chat.

How often should you see an eye doctor if you have normal vision?

The American Optometric Association recommends infants receive their first eye exam at 6 months and again at 3 and 5-6 years old. For school age, every 2 years. And for children with eyeglasses, it is recommended to be examined annually. For adults, two years is a good rule of thumb. But consult with your eye doctor for their recommendations!

Can working in front of a computer for year suddenly cause someone who has 20/20 vision to suddenly develop eye issues requiring the use of reading glasses?

A lot of research has been going on in the optical industry to determine that. Right now we just know that long screen time can dry out eyes, irritate them and cause blurry vision. Myopia has drastically increased in the last 30 years, but there is no clear evidence that this is due to computer use. I suspect research will make things more clear in the future, but for now, I recommend using computer glasses.

What do computer glasses do?

Computer glasses have anti-reflecting properties which help cut back on the glare from your screen. They also help your eyes relax a little bit so they’re not straining through an additional glare from the screen.

Is there a risk in digitalizing children too early with too much screen time?

For children, it’s important that they’re not constantly focused up close to a screen. What happens is that their eyes can become near-sighted, because they become so used to looking up close that they lose the ability to see farther away. It’s really important to make sure they are involved in other activities that cause them to look farther away as well.

Is it true that people with light colored eyes are more at risk than dark colored eyes?

That’s true. People with lighter eyes are more at risk for UV damage. Lighter eyes have lower melanin, which is a protective pigment. Similarly, lighter skin color has a tendency to be more at risk from UV damage than darker skin.

Are UVA and UVB rays as much of a concern when it is gray and cloudy outside?

Absolutely. UV rays are still present when it is cloudy! It is important to wear sunglasses even when it is cloudy.

If you would like to learn more, please visit the links below.

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