Like the majority of us, you have probably stared into the beams of a shining flashing at point blank range when you were a kid. If you are a parent, you may have caught your son or daughter doing the exact same thing. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
So did your or your child's encounter with the bright light damage your eyes? With typical outputs of 10 to 20 lumen, flashlights pose little or no threat to the eyes. One reason for this is the built-in defense ability that the eyes possess. Through the coordinated efforts of the pupil, iris, retina and the optic nerve, the eye can adapt to a variety of light conditions, including a flashlight. Here's how your eyes work to protect you from these acts of curiosity.
The pupil is the portal through which light and images enter the eye. It varies from 3mm to 9mm, depending on conditions. This opening is covered by the cornea. It only looks black because the internal tissues of the eye, which would otherwise be visible, absorb almost all light.
The iris, the colored part of the eye, is like the retractable sun screen of the eye. In dim light, dilator muscles in the iris contract and open the pupil to allow more light in. In bright conditions, such as that flashlight shining in your face, sphincter muscles in the iris contract to constrict the pupil and block any potentially damaging or uncomfortable light.
Your Retina and Optic Nerve
The retina is the nerve center of the eye and the optic nerve is the information conduit to the brain. Together, they control this protective mechanism, which is called the pupillary light reflex. When the rod and cone receptor cells of the retina become overstimulated with light, the optic nerve triggers the sphincter muscle and the pupil constricts.
The Fall Back Plan
If the offending light is too strong, or the eye needs a few extra seconds to make the needed pupillary adjustment, our brain calls in the big guns--the palpebrae--also known as the eyelids. An impulse shoots to the obicularis oculi muscles and the lids slam shut involuntarily.
Dilated Eye Exam
If you're curious about what life would be like without the pupillary light reflex, call your eye doctor and schedule a dilated eye exam. During a dilated exam, the doctor uses medicated drops to immobilize this light reflex. This allows him to keep your pupil wide open while he uses his lighted instruments to take a good look at the back chamber of your eyes. When the exam is done, it often takes an hour or two for the drops to wear off, and if you walk from the dim exam room into bright sunlight you'll probably get a quick lesson in light sensitivity. It should make you appreciate just how good your eyes normally are at controlling light.
To learn more about proper eye care, eye wear and Shawnee Optical, please visit our website at www.shawneeoptical.com.
We live in a high tech world where the demands placed upon our eyes are growing exponentially. These demands now start at a very young age and continue throughout every stage of our life. We depend upon a TV, computer or smart phone at school, at work and to socialize with family and friends. The importance of seeing clearly and comfortably at a range of approximately 1-3 feet is critical to everyday life. This significance will only grow in the future as more and more of life’s tasks, functions and pleasures are conducted electronically.
Beyond Reading Glasses
Extended periods of time watching videos on YouTube, posting on facebook, searching on Google, tweeting on Twitter, networking on Linkedin, texting a friend or chatting with a family member commonly lead to health problems such as tired eyes, headaches and neck pain. To address these conditions, computer hardware and software manufactures as well as cell phone and smart phone manufactures are constantly developing new features, screen displays and fonts that are more eye-friendly. However, more specialized eyeglass lenses beyond the capabilities and features of traditional reading glasses may be required to properly and effectively utilize technology and prevent chronic health conditions. Bifocals and Progressive lenses are not designed for computer and smart phone use. They may cause eye strain as well as neck and back pain as you adjust your body in the quest to find a position where your vision is clear and focused through your lenses.
Visual Fatigue Syndrome
Visual Fatigue Syndrome or VFS is typically caused by focusing on objects in the 1-3 feet vision range for extended periods of time. Symptoms of Visual Fatigue Syndrome may include Tired Eyes, Eyestrain, Blurred Vision, Dry Eyes, Burning Eyes, Headaches, Neck Pain and Back Pain. More and more people are suffering from VFS due to the demands of their digital world. VFS can reduce your productivity and your ability to concentrate which often times leads to increased stress.
Talk to Your Eye Doctor
A candid conversation with your eye doctor can help you immensely with the demands of today’s technology as well as avoiding or reducing the effects of Visual Fatigue Syndrome. It’s important to discuss your career and lifestyle demands with your eye doctor, especially as it relates to your use of technology equipment. What specific equipment you utilize on daily basis and the duration of use can be particularly helpful. For example, tell your eye doctor that you spend 6 hours a day working at a computer with a 15” monitor or you spend the majority of your day using an iPad. Armed with this type of information, your eye doctor can offer valuable guidance on preparing your environment for optimal vision such as proper lighting and how to position your equipment. In addition, your eye care professional can also recommend and prescribe special lenses that match the demands of your digital lifestyle.
Eyeglass Lenses for the Computer and Visual Fatigue
To keep up with the modern world and its visual demands, eyeglass lens manufacturers are continually developing new specialty lenses. Computer lenses provide a wide “near” area in order to see the entire computer screen clearly and comfortably with a small “distance” area so you can see across the room. Anti-fatigue lenses are specialized lenses targeted at improving the “near” vision needed to operate a laptop, tablet computer or smart phone and relieving the symptoms of visual fatigue such as burning eyes, blurry vision, headaches and watery eyes.
Technology greatly improves our productivity and ability to communicate with others. Make sure you are equipping yourself with the proper eyewear to keep up with the demands of your digital life and promote maximized eye health.
We are bombarded with the latest and greatest diet plans to help us lose weight and look like a movie star. While it’s unrealistic for any one diet plan to fit the needs of everyone, many of these diet plans do focus on the importance of providing your body with healthy foods, rich in nutrients essential for your body to perform at optimal levels.
Your eyes are no different. Clear vision and healthy eyes are reliant on proper nutrition. The next time you are in the grocery store or open the refrigerator door to “see” what looks good, ask yourself if that particular food is beneficial to your eye health and overall vision.
Antioxidants and Eye Health
You have probably heard how antioxidants are critical in the prevention of heart diseases and cancers. Just like other parts of your body, they are also very important in the prevention of eye diseases. Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Here’s a list of a few key vitamins and minerals (nutrients) vital to maximizing eye health and maintaining clear vision:
Vitamin A helps the retina function properly as well as reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods rich in Vitamin A include, but are not limited to:
•Liver (Beef liver, Chicken liver, Turkey liver)
•Herbs (Parsley, Thyme, etc.)
Vitamin C also helps reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. Foods rich in Vitamin C include, but are not limited to:
•Citrus Fruits (Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes)
•Tropical Fruits (Papaya and Kiwi)
•Dark Leafy Greens (Kale, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Lettuces)
•Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
•Fresh Herbs (Thyme, Parsley, etc.)
Vitamin E has been shown to help prevent cataracts and slow the growth of cataracts that have developed. Foods rich in Vitamin E include, but are not limited to:
•Tropical Fruits such as Papaya and Kiwi (Note how these fruits contain more than just one beneficial vitamin)
•Wheat germ (Most Vitamin E is found in the germ)
•Nuts and Seeds (Almonds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Pecans, Macadamias, Sunflower Seeds)
•Dark Leafy Greens such as Spinach, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard and Kale (Note how these foods contains many essentials vitamins and minerals)
•Oils (Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Corn Oil)
Selenium is another mineral important for maximum eye health. A person with cataracts has a significantly lower level of selenium than someone who does not have cataracts. Therefore, maintaining proper levels of selenium are important to prevent cataracts from forming. Foods rich in selenium include, but are not limited to:
•Fish (Tuna, Cod, Salmon, Sardines, Flounder, Halibut)
•Mushrooms (Button mushrooms, Shiitakes, Criminis)
•Poultry (Chicken and Turkey)
• Brazil Nuts
•Grains (Wheat germ, oats, brown rice, barley)
Zinc is an essential mineral for eye health. In fact, zinc concentrations in the eyes are higher than any other part of the human body. People with macular degeneration typically have low levels of zinc in the retina. Eating foods rich in zinc can help prevent macular degeneration. Foods high in zinc include, but are not limited to:
•Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Talk to Your Eye Doctor About Your Eye Diet
It’s important to talk to your optometrist and discuss what foods you are eating and what foods you should be eating to promote good eye health and clear vision. It’s also beneficial to speak with your eye doctor about ingesting vitamins and minerals naturally by eating foods rich in eye-healthy nutrients or whether a vitamin or mineral supplement is appropriate for your particular needs.