Caring for your family’s eye health and vision needs since 1984.
Kootenai Vision Center 422 Louisiana Ave
Libby, Mt 59923
Phone: 406-293-4136
Fax: 406-293-2033
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Eye Health Tips

Because a poor diet is the underlying cause of many diseases that can affect the eyes, maintaining proper nutrition and healthy dietary habits is the key to preserving your vision. Some vision problems can easily be avoided or improved by making a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle. Of course, be sure to consult with your physician or eye care professional before trying a new approach to any health care issue.

Nutrition and Eye Health

Listed below are a few of the more essential vitamins and minerals that are critical to the well-being of your eyes. To ensure an adequate intake of these nutrients, you might want to consider taking a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. Because the key to vitamin and mineral intake is to stay in balance, visiting with your health care provider or dietitian to discuss your individual dietary supplement requirements just might be the best approach.

  • Vitamin A is an essential antioxidant that influences the prevention of night blindness, hinders the formation of cataracts, and helps lower the risk or slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration. A deficiency of vitamin A in the diet, if left unrecognized and untreated, could lead to dryness in the eyes, corneal ulcers, and swollen eye lids. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children, especially in developing countries. A few common sources of vitamin A are liver, pumpkins, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, winter squash, tomatoes, apricots, red bell peppers, and cantaloupe.
  • Vitamin E plays a role in reducing the risk of developing advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration and could also play a role in preventing cataracts. Significant levels of vitamin E can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwifruits, and mangos.
  • Another important nutrient to consider is vitamin C, commonly referred to as ascorbic acid. Studies suggest that a high level of this vitamin can reduce elevated pressure in individuals with glaucoma, can slow age related macular degeneration, and can lower your risk of cataracts. The following is a small sampling of foods that are good sources of vitamin C: sweet red bell and green bell peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, cabbage, tomatoes, raspberries, celery, and spinach.
  • A preventative measure in reducing the risk of contracting certain eye diseases, particularly age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, is to include a healthy source of vitamin B in your daily diet. Individually, the eight vitamins are referred as vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cobolamin), and folic acid. Collectively, often appearing in supplement form, they are referred as vitamin B complex.
    Various studies concerning vitamin B nutrition have yielded positive results on overall eye health. For instance, taking a vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 supplement could play a part in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, vitamin B2 or riboflavin, aids in the prevention and treatment of cataract development and helps strengthen the cornea repressing the onset of the eye disorder, keratoconus.
    Because vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored in the body, it is essential to replace your vitamin B levels on a daily basis either through the use of dietary supplements or through the consumption of food sources. These sources include eggs, fresh vegetables, whole cereals, dairy products, sunflower seeds, and meat and meat products such as tuna, liver, and turkey.
  • Minerals, which help the body metabolize vitamins, have a tremendous impact on the health of your eyes. Zinc is one such essential mineral. Zinc increases the effectiveness of vitamin A influencing the release and transportation of vitamin A from the liver to the eye tissue. Aiding in the protection of cells and blood vessels, zinc is needed to support the health of the macula and the retina to reduce visual loss due to macular degeneration. Zinc is best absorbed by the body when taken in from animal sources such as red meat, pork, fish, and shellfish, with oysters providing the highest amounts. Additionally, zinc is present in eggs and in dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, or even ice cream.
  • Copper, which binds with zinc and should be supplemented together, is an essential dietary element that can act as an antioxidant removing damaging free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the severe damage done to cell structures. Copper has many health benefits including improving eye health and helping reduce the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration. Copper cannot be produced within the body and needs to be ingested from external sources. Copper is usually present in multivitamins, however, the best way to enjoy the health benefits of copper is to get an adequate amount through your diet. The best dietary sources of copper are liver, shellfish, poultry, whole grain cereals, nuts, legumes, and chocolate.
  • Selenium, another vital mineral, helps the body absorb the antioxidant vitamin E. The combined effect of selenium and vitamin E plays a key role in the prevention of cataracts. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, cod, tuna, chicken, turkey, noodles, eggs, and cottage cheese.
  • Two additional antioxidants that play an important part of protecting and strengthening the eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin, also known as carotenoids. Carotenoids, the pigmented substance giving plants their red, orange, or yellow color, are powerful antioxidants that interact and protect the cells of the body from the damaging effects of free radicals. Because lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally present in the macula of the human retina, it has a direct effect on eye health by reducing the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These two very abundant carotenoids are plentiful in green peas, green beans, orange bell peppers, corn, tangerines, oranges, mangos, eggs, and dark, green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, and spinach.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for maintaining the health of your heart, eyes, and brain. One type is ALA, which stands for alpha-linolenic acid. The other two types, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, otherwise known as EPA/DHA, have been publicly recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as being an essential part of a healthy diet to maintain normal function of the brain and eyes. EPA and DHA each play a very important role in providing healthy vision by offering a decreased risk in eye diseases including macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. Notably, a recent study confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids can also effectively prevent abnormal blood vessels from building up in the retina, benefiting in the prevention of retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to serious vision problems and even blindness.
    Our bodies cannot manufacture omega-3 fats; hence, the name essential. Therefore, we need to be sure to get adequate amounts from supplementation or from consuming foods rich in polyunsaturated fats. The fatty acid EPA/DHA is found in flat seeds such as pumpkin seeds, raw walnuts, and flaxseed; fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout; and other cold water fish such as cod, halibut, and herring. If you do not consume fish or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it is highly recommended that you consider taking a supplement to reach your target amount. Consult with your local pharmacist or health care provider to identify and discuss the omega-3 supplement that is right for you. The third omega-3 fat, ALA, is important to your health because your body is able to convert it to EPA and DHA in limited amounts. So, if you eat a significant amount of dark green leafy vegetables, flat seeds, and healthy oils, your body should be able to produce enough EPA and DHA from ALA for you to be able to experience health benefits.
The 3 Most Common Age-Related Eye Diseases (AREDS)

  • Contrary to popular belief, cataracts are not a disease and commonly occurs in perfectly healthy, aging individuals. So what is a cataract? Simply put, a cataract is a clouding of the natural lens within the eye. The water and protein in the lens has the tendency to form small clumps as we age. These masses of proteins may eventually increase in size impairing vision by clouding the lens and reducing the light that reaches the retina.
  • Initially, when the cataract is small in size, vision loss is less noticeable as the cloudiness only affects a small part of the lens. However, over time, your vision may become dull and cloudy as the slowly progressing, problematic cataract grows.
  • Because there is no cure for cataracts, surgery is the only effective treatment to correct the vision loss. This painless, outpatient procedure, which is often performed in as little as fifteen minutes, involves removing the eye’s cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens implant.
  • The risk for cataract increases as you age. Personal behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use and those with diabetic tendencies also have an increased risk of developing this condition. So what can you do to further protect your vision as you age? First and foremost, stop smoking. Secondly, living a healthy lifestyle, using sunglasses to block ultraviolet sunlight, and scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once per year may also help to delay age-related cataract.
Macular Degeneration
  • The macula is a tiny area near the center of the light-sensitive retina. It is responsible for us to be able to accomplish detailed tasks that require sharp central vision necessary for functions such as reading, sewing, driving a car or recognizing faces. As we age, we become more susceptible to irreversible vision loss due to the progressive degeneration of the macula, hence the name age-related macular degeneration.
  • This disorder has two forms - dry and wet. The majority of ARMD cases are of the “dry” type that progresses slowly over a period of years and usually causes mild visual loss. The main symptoms are often a dimming of vision when reading, an increasing blurriness of printed words, and a blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision. The second form of ARMD is of the “wet” type. “Wet” ARMD is more aggressive and can cause severe vision loss in a short period of time due to the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. When these new blood vessels become fragile and leak blood and fluid, the swelling and damage to the macula occurs rapidly and is inevitable. Early stages of “wet” ARMD are commonly characterized by straight lines having a wavy appearance and the dramatic loss of central vision.
  • There is no cure. However, with early detection and proper treatment, your eye care professional can delay the progression of moderate to severe ARMD using high doses of vitamins and mineral supplements, antibodies by injections, and laser treatments or laser surgery.
  • The good news is, macular degeneration prevention is possible, especially if you are diligent about following preventive guidelines. With age being the biggest risk factor, a combination of other factors that may increase your risk of macular degeneration include having a family history of the disease, being of the Caucasian race, being female, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, being obese, prolonged sun exposure, smoking cigarettes, or having low levels of minerals and antioxidant vitamins. You can counteract most of these risk factors by maintaining good health in general. Don′t smoke, eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables, take a multivitamin or multi-mineral supplement, eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, exercise regularly, eat fruits and nuts daily, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol level in check, wear appropriate sun protection, and visit your eye care professional regularly.
  • Glaucoma is a neurological disorder that is associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye causing damage to your eye’s optic nerve, the delicate part of the eye that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. The persisting increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, will eventually damage the optic nerve, causing permanent loss of vision within a few years.
  • Because glaucoma is such a slow progressing disorder, symptoms tend to go ignored until much later in the disease when a person begins to notice the loss of peripheral vision. Other tell-tale signs, usually due to a dangerously elevated level of intraocular pressure, include sudden eye pain, a severe headache, vision loss, or the appearance of halos around lights.
  • How is glaucoma treated? Glaucoma can be treated with prescription eye drops, microsurgery, laser surgery, conventional surgery, or a combination of these methods. Because the loss of vision caused by glaucoma is irreversible and cannot be restored, successfully lowering eye pressure to prevent further visual loss from glaucoma is the main goal of any treatment plan. If followed precisely, most people with glaucoma will not lose their sight.
  • Who develops glaucoma? You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you are over forty years of age, have a family history of the disorder, have poor vision or diabetes, take steroid medications, or if you have any genetic predisposition to other eye diseases. Because of the absence of pain and symptoms associated with the onset of glaucoma, it is important to see your eye specialist on a regular basis for early diagnosis and treatment before long-term visual loss occurs.
  • What about preventive care? The key ingredients to glaucoma prevention are early diagnosis and proper treatment. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, adhering to a consistent exercise program, and wearing protective eyewear are equally important strategies in any glaucoma prevention plan.
Additional Tips for Your Family’s Eye Health

Fun in the Sun Eye Safety

Sun exposure, overtime, can certainly have an adverse effect on your eye health causing damage to proteins in the eye’s lens resulting in cataract formation. Another equally damaging effect of repeated sun exposure is the increased risk of AMD or age-related macular degeneration. To protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, wear 100% UVA/UVB-blocking glasses year-around, even on cloudy days. Fashionable shades that claim to block harmful UV rays may not ensure full coverage. Again, choose sunglasses that will filter 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The glasses should be appropriately labeled as such. However, if you are unsure if your eyes are well protected from sun damage, please see your eye care professional.

Indoor Tanning and Eye Protection

The basic purpose of wearing tanning bed goggles when using a tanning bed is to ensure that the eyes and eyelids have full protection from the harmful UVA and UVB rays emitted from tanning bed lamps. The naturally thin eyelids only protect the eyes against about 25% of the UV rays from a tanning bed; therefore, simply shutting the eyes will certainly not provide enough protection. Another common fallacy is the adequate protection received from draping a towel over the face while using the tanning bed. That most certainly is not true. The towel only filters the UV rays, it does not block them. Without use of goggles for indoor tanning, you risk burns to the cornea and can develop serious problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. The most serious of all the problems associated with not wearing tanning goggles is the development of skin cancer around the eyes and on the fragile eyelids. Taking a few simple precautions will help safeguard your eyes if you should chose to tan indoors.

  • Wear properly fitting tanning goggles at all times while using the tanning bed!
  • Wear only FDA approved tanning goggles regulated specifically for indoor tanning bed use - there is no substitute. Because the intensity of tanning bed lights is much greater than natural sunlight, wearing traditional sunglasses will not fully protect your eyes.
  • Only wear your own pair of tanning goggles to ensure that you do not contract germs that cause problems such as the highly contagious conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.
  • Be sure to clean your tanning goggles frequently to protect your eyes against the accumulation of bacteria from sweat, eye makeup deposits, and other debris.
  • If you are a contact wearer, you might want to consider removing your contacts before using the tanning bed. The dry heat from the tanning bed and the circulating air from fan use may lead to dry, red, irritated eyes.
Fit Exercise into Your Life for Healthy Body, Healthy Eyes

Most of us know that eating right and exercising lowers our risk of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and numerous other health problems associated with obesity. What should come as no surprise is the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and how it is directly related to maintaining all of your body’s organs, including your eyes. Even though research is still in its preliminary stages, evidence shows that those with an active lifestyle have better eye health and are less likely to develop an eye disease later in life than those that lead a sedentary lifestyle. The reason for this is a simple one. Increasing your heart rate through vigorous aerobic exercise causes more blood to be adequately pumped through all parts of the body, including the eyes. This process actually stimulates the eyes promoting better eye health and improving your vision. Guidelines suggest aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise or performing a low-intensity form of exercise such as walking for at least 45 minutes five days a week, if not daily.

Numerous studies have indicated that aerobic exercise benefits eye health by:
  • Reducing the onset of cataract formation
  • Providing a new approach in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration
  • Effectively and easily reducing the eye pressure in glaucoma patients
  • Preventing diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood sugar levels under control
Awareness of Smoking Risks - A Real Eye-Opener

There are many needless risks people take with their vision, smoking being one of them. Research indicates that smoking does in fact pose an increased risk of vision threatening diseases and have adverse effects on overall eye health. In comparison to nonsmokers, smokers are more prone to:

  • Develop worsening symptoms of diabetic retinopathy common in diabetic patients.
  • Develop complications of an eye disorder called thyroid eye disease present in those suffering from Grave’s disease.
  • Develop optic neuropathy. This eye disease occurs because of the reduced blood flow to the eyes resulting in an unexpected, painless vision loss. The greatest risk here is the possibility of irreversible blindness.
  • Develop the most common eye disease linked to smoking - age related macular degeneration. AMD, which distorts and causes loss of central vision, is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50.
  • Develop an increased risk in experiencing long-term effects of cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome.

How does smoking damage the eyes? These eye conditions, in general, are caused by the damage done to the blood vessels that supply the eyes depriving them of the much needed oxygen and blood supply that is essential for nourishment.

Contact Lens Safety
  • For healthy contact lens wear, keep your case clean by rinsing it in contact solution weekly and replace it at least every 3 months.
  • When not in use, rinse your case thoroughly with clean water to flush out the used solution and let it air dry with the lids off in an enclosed cabinet until you are ready to store your contacts again.
  • Refrain from overwearing or sleeping with your contact lenses inserted. Wearing your lenses for a period longer than recommended increases your risk of eye irritation, infection, or corneal abrasion. If you accidentally sleep with your contact lenses in, you may have symptoms of irritation, sensitivity, and dryness upon waking. If this does occur, simply lubricating your eyes and rewetting the contacts with saline solution or eye drops will ease the contact removal process and will moisturize the eyes for added comfort.
  • Never reuse lens solution and avoid using non-sterile water such as tap water to rinse your lenses. Practicing this habit may cause serious eye infections because of the possibility of the presence of microorganisms in the liquids. Likewise, rinsing your lenses in saliva poses the same unhealthy risks. Avoid this by storing a convenient trial size bottle of solution in your glove compartment, desk drawer, locker, or purse.
  • Most importantly, do not ignore symptoms and the discomfort of eye irritation that could very easily be a sign of an infection. Some common symptoms include itching, burning, unusual redness, blurred vision, pain, excess discharge, or unusual sensitivity to light. If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your contacts immediately and sustain from wearing them until you see your eye care professional.
Makeup Safety Tips

When highlighting one of your greatest assets - that is, your eyes - follow these few precautionary measures to help keep them healthy and beautiful!

  • Cosmetics, by law, are not required to have an expiration date. Experts vary in their opinions about the shelf life of cosmetics and its effectiveness to fight bacteria. However, guidelines suggest changing them out every three to four months - six months at the latest. Keep in mind from the moment you open a product, it becomes vulnerable to contamination from airborne bacteria, multiplying after each use diminishing its shelf life. A good rule of thumb? When in doubt, throw it out!
  • To reduce the risk of cross contamination, do not share your cosmetics with anybody. Bacterial or viral infections, such as pink eye, are a common occurrence among those that share the same mascara or eyeliner products.
  • Because cosmetic tools are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, wash your application brushes frequently using mild soap and warm water.
  • Use common sense when it comes to dried-up makeup. First of all, never use saliva to moisten cosmetics. The bacteria that are present in your mouth will inevitably be introduced to an otherwise sterile cosmetic. Likewise, do not use water to thin cosmetics. The addition of water could also harbor fungi and bacteria growths by weakening any preservatives present to protect the product.
  • Proper storage of cosmetics to avoid moisture and humidity is essential to your eye health. The best way to store cosmetics is at a temperature less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid prolong storage of makeup in the bathroom. Because of hot showers, hot baths, extreme temperature changes, and high humidity, the bathroom does not provide a cool and dry environment for makeup storage - a necessity in preserving its quality. Instead, store your makeup in something portable such as a cosmetic bag, a makeup case, a tool box, or even a tackle box. To further illustrate why it is a bad habit to use the bathroom for storage is the fact that every time the toilet is flushed, bacteria is released into the air and settles on surfaces throughout the bathroom. Who wants this type of nastiness coating their skincare and makeup products?
  • If you do contract an eye infection, avoid wearing makeup until the eye is completely healed or as directed by your eye care professional. If your eye infection was viral or bacterial related, throw away your old makeup and replace with new to prevent re-infection.
  • Whether you wear soft or hard contact lenses, makeup application and removal are equally important. Under normal circumstances, you should insert soft contact lenses before applying makeup while hard contact lenses should be inserted after. However, because of the likelihood of debris entering the eye, eye makeup removal should occur after the contact lenses are removed. This is customary for both soft and hard contact lens wearers.
  • Choosing to wear the highly luminous metallic shades of eye shadow could pose a problem for contact wearers. They are made with silica, an abrasive mineral. If a piece should get underneath your contact lens, it is like getting sand in your eyes, causing irritation and increasing the risk of a painful corneal abrasion.
Protective Eyewear for Home, Work, or Play

Thousands of eye injuries happen each day at home, school, work, and play. With the use of adequate eye protection, many of these accidents, ranging from mild irritation to the tragic permanent loss of vision could easily be avoided.

Preventing eye injuries at home could be as simple as slipping on a pair of safety glasses, safety goggles, or some other type of eye guard. For maximum protection, wear ANSI-approved eyewear when completing repair projects or undertaking hazardous activities that could easily result in an unnecessary eye injury. The protective eyewear, made of lightweight polycarbonate for comfort, can be purchased from your local hardware store or building supply store. The lens or frame will clearly be marked "ANSI Z87.1", indicating that the pair meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 safety standard.

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, requires employers to establish guidelines ensuring the safety of the employees in the work environment, including eye safety and eye protection. To avoid eye injuries in the workplace, effective eye protection must be provided in the event employees are subject to hazards and irritants. With proper training and education required by all employees, eye safety should be easily maintained keeping on-the-job eye injury incidences minimal. Advise with your supervisor overseeing safety standards within the company to determine if your job safety requires the use of eye protection.

Protecting your eyes during sports related activities is equally important. Because there are different levels of risk for eye injury depending upon the type of sport engaged in, be sure that you are using proper fitting eye protection tailored for each activity. Keep in mind, effective eye gear does not include your trendy, conventional frames and lenses; your fashionable sunglasses; or even your safety glasses intended for industrial use. The characteristics of these types of eyewear do not include the unique strength necessary to protect against injuries resulting from direct impacts, a common risk when participating in most sports. To learn more about the most appropriate type of eye protection required for optimal safety for you and your family, visit with the school’s athletic department, your eye care professional, or the local sporting goods store.

Keeping an Eye on Your Baby’s Vision Development

To be able to differentiate between two key terms may help you recognize the milestones in your infant’s vision development. Eyesight is the "physical" ability to see and observe objects and sizes at various distances, while vision refers to a number of "mental" processes involved in the perception and understanding of what we see. Knowing this will give you an understanding of the critical role you play in your infant’s early vision development and the importance of participating in as much positive visual interaction with your infant as possible. Because vision is actually a learned skill that can be taught through proper stimuli, there are several activities you can engage in with your infant to help his eyesight develop:

  • At birth, your baby will be limited to seeing distances of eight to fifteen inches away and will be limited to distinguishing between black, white, and gray colors. However, your newborn can differentiate between light and dark, detect movement, and observe shapes. Stimulate your baby’s brain growth and vision development by playing baby games with him. One way to help your baby learn to focus is by playing peek-a-boo or hold a brightly colored object, such as a rattle, in front of his face, moving the object slowly from left to right encouraging visual coordination.
  • For the next one to three months, continue to introduce patterns, textures, and colors. Reading books to him full of bright, vibrant colors - preferably reds, oranges, blues, and greens - is perfect for him to begin distinguishing similar color tones.
  • By three to four months of age, your baby should begin to develop depth perception. With both the coordination skills and motor development necessary for reaching and grabbing, you can begin challenging his understanding of depth perception. To help him, give him plenty of opportunities to reach for things with different textures by placing easy-to-grasp objects in front of him.
  • By the age of six months, sight becomes a baby’s most dominant sense and he should have about 20/20 vision and have a fully developed sense of clarity and depth perception. He will begin recognizing differences in patterns as well as differences in colors, including bold and pastel variations.
Computers, Tablets, E-Readers, and Cell Phones...Stress-Busting Secrets for Your Eyes

After prolong use of the computer or other digital devices, it is not uncommon to experience eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, and other symptoms that cause stress on the visual system. You can reduce or even avoid the discomfort of these symptoms by following a few precautionary measures.

  • First, observe your workstation conditions paying close attention to the following ergonomic recommendations for computer monitor placement. Most importantly, computer workstations should be strategically placed in a room that allows you to face into an open space beyond the computer screen. This will give you the opportunity to be able to focus on objects at a distance to periodically rest the eyes. Equally important is the location of the monitor. While in the seated position, place the monitor directly in front of you approximately an arm’s length away. Monitors should be placed so that the top of the screen is at eye level and at a distance of 18 to 24 inches from the face to reduce stress on the eyes and neck.
  • Use of a newer flat-panel screen monitor, as opposed to the older CRT monitors, with a high quality glare filter will ensure optimal computing comfort. Anti-glare screens are available in many sizes including screen magnification for LCD and the traditional CRT monitors. Eliminating glare and distracting screen reflections will ease visual stress symptoms.
  • Poor lighting conditions from bright overhead lighting and glare from windows could have a direct effect on your viewing comfort causing undesirable eye strain. In an attempt to compensate for poor lighting conditions, your eyes continually focus on the material aiming to correct the problem. This directly affects the muscle of the eye and will inevitably lead to eye strain. To combat this problem, reposition your desk so that you are not in front of a window or if you must, install blinds or shades to control the excessive natural brightness.
  • For an overall stress buster, take visual and mental breaks. To relieve the eye muscle of the strain involved from working close-up, take frequent breaks every 15 to 20 minutes by looking away into the distance for two to three minutes. After every hour or two, physically remove yourself from your workstation and other devices and be sure to stretch the arms, neck, and shoulders.
  • Finally, to counteract dry, tired eyes, consciously blink more frequently, close them periodically, and even use lubricating eye drops for continual comfort.
Eye Strain and Reading in Dim Light

While you were growing up, how many times did your mother warn you that reading in the dark will damage your eyes?

Well, it is time to put this theory to rest. You will not damage your eyes by continuing with your bedtime reading habits. In fact, incorporating reading into your bedtime rituals is certainly a great way to unwind and make certain you are engaging in reading activities on a daily basis. Just ensure adequate lighting to prevent any unnecessary eyestrain. Unraveling of this myth resulted from a particular study published by the British Medical Journal. After extensive analysis, the researchers did not reveal any evidence that reading in low light will cause permanent damage to your eyes by changing their health, their structure, or their ability to function.

The eye’s ability to process light is a very complex process. However, in layman’s terms, it is quite simple. The pupil, which is actually an opening in the center of the eye, regulates the amount of light entering the eye by expanding or contracting depending on the brightness or dimness of light. The pupil’s ability to change its size is due to the fact that it is connected to the iris, which is the pigmented circular band of muscles. In response to dim light, the muscles of the iris relax causing the pupil to expand to allow your eye to collect as much light as possible. On the other hand, if the light is intense, the pupil responds by contracting to limit the amount of light entering the eye.

If you attempt to read in a poorly lit room, your eyes have to work harder to not only adjust to the decrease in visual acuity but also adjust to the lack of adequate lighting. Overtime, your eye muscles could become tired and you could possibly experience temporary eye strain. You may notice symptoms such as decreased clearness in vision, dry eyes, achy eyes, and possibly even a headache. However, these temporary negative effects can be relieved by getting a good night’s rest.

So go ahead and curl up under the covers with a good book before getting some shut-eye. However, if you plan on reading for an extended period of time, you will want to illuminate your area well either by placing a table lamp nearby or strategically placing a floor lamp at your bedside. Keep in mind that the best way to read is to have your light source shining directly on your reading material, not coming from behind which can easily cause a glare. Also, be sure to blink frequently, keep reading material the recommended twelve inches away, and take frequent breaks from reading every 15 to 20 minutes by focusing on something in the distant. Following these few simple steps will ensure optimal bedtime reading pleasure.

Break this Bad Habit with a Few Eye-Opening Tips!

Do you know how many times a day you either unconsciously or consciously rub your irritated eyes to relieve typical symptoms of discomfort, fatigue, or strain? Like many of us, the urge is almost a reflexive action, so you probably do not. Are you aware of how this unseemly harsh treatment can have detrimental effects on your overall eye health? Again, like many of us, you probably do not. Keeping the following noteworthy practices in mind will not only safeguard the health of your sensitive eyes themselves, but also the health of the thin skin around them.

So, why do we do it?
  • Sometimes, you involuntarily rub your eyes to relax the fatigued or strained muscles around them that have been affected by tension caused from heightened stress. This deserves the same concept as rubbing a sore muscle after a strenuous workout. Gentle massaging increases blood circulation to the injured area bringing relief from the mild discomfort you may be experiencing. However, as you will read in a moment, this automatic response does in fact have a negative impact on the overall health of your eyes.
  • The rubbing of your eyes encourages the tear ducts to produce more fluids thus alleviating the symptoms of dry, irritated eyes. However, this is counterproductive. The continual rubbing will only exasperate the problem and worsen your dry eye symptoms.
  • Interestingly enough, when we naturally rub our fatigued eyes or face with our hands, we are in a sense stimulating the nervous system causing our body to respond by mildly slowing down the heart rate helping us to relax or de-stress and eventually fall asleep. Again, this is certainly a habit you do not want to fall victim to as a number of long-term health problems could eventually arise.
So, what is the problem then?
  • Pushing against the eyeball itself as you vigorously rub it could very easily damage the delicate structures inside the eye. The amount of force you use could be enough to cause pressure to build at the back of your eye socket disturbing the optic nerve and could eventually lead to severe problems down the road. Have you ever experienced temporary blurriness following a rubbing episode? Well, that is proof that your eye is retaliating against the pressure that has built up due to the lack of blood flow.
  • Very simply put, rubbing your eyes with one super-germy hand will not only introduce infections but is a sure-fire way to get sick because of the cold and flu viruses that enter your body through the eyes.
  • For those of you determined not to grow old gracefully, rubbing your eyes is definitely one beauty blunder you will want to steer clear of. As previously mentioned, the area around your eyes is the thinnest, most sensitive area of your face. Because the skin in that area lacks oil glands, any repeated tugging and pulling can cause the skin to loosen resulting in the formation of fine lines and deep wrinkles.
So, what can I do about it?
  • If you must rub your eyes, use a clean Q-tip® to gently rub the inner corner of your eye without irritating the skin around it.
  • Take regular vacations from contact lens use if at all possible.
  • Tightly squeezing your eyes shut is a very effective stress relieving technique.
  • To counteract redness and itching, try using over the counter artificial tears. Be sure to ask your eye care professional which drops might be the best for you.
  • Another simple solution that will provide some relief is to apply a cold compress made from green tea bags. The tannin in the tea will reduce the swelling and puffiness leaving you looking and feeling refreshed. As an added bonus, green tea also contains EGCG, an anti-inflammatory that helps remove the buildup of fluid under the eye - the main cause of under eye bags and dark circles.
  • If all else fails, a quick and easy approach to immediate relief from redness and swelling is to apply a dampened, cooled towel to your eyes or splash cold water on them.
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The information provided within this Web site is for general information purposes only. The intent of the author is not to provide medical advice or to address individual visual problems or situations. The articles written here should not be used as a substitute for professional care, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be relied on to make conclusions about your own medical conditions or needs. If you question the opinions expressed or implied from the author, please consult with your eye care professional.