Prize those eyes
For more good-sight insight, Bergen Health & Life asked Jeffrey Anshel, O.D. (doctor of optometry), president of the Ocular Nutrition Society, for advice on six possible threats to your eyes.
Windows to the soul? The eyes may be that, but they’re also a precious part of your good health. To guard your eyesight, get regular eye exams and “live a healthy life,” advises Emily Chew, M.D., deputy director of epidemiology and clinical applications at the National Eye Institute. For more good-sight insight, Bergen Health & Life asked Jeffrey Anshel, O.D. (doctor of optometry), president of the Ocular Nutrition Society, for advice on six possible threats to your eyes.
Staring at a computer screen
Worry? No. No studies have proved that a long day in front of the monitor causes serious problems, says Dr. Anshel.
What to do: Lower your monitor— the widespread belief that it has to be at “eye level” is wrong, Dr. Anshel says. Position it so that your gaze is downward. Your eyes won’t have to open so wide and you’ll blink more—a good thing, because blinking produces tears and prevents dry eyes.
Watching 3-D movies
Worry? Maybe. Watching 3-D movies won’t harm your eyes, but it could offer a clue to existing eye problems. “Three-D images cannot be perceived without two functional eyes, and not everybody has them,” Dr. Anshel says. About 30 to 35 percent of the population struggles to keep their eyes working closely in tandem.
What to do: If your eyes get tired during a movie, or you develop a headache or nausea, “that’s an alarm,” Dr. Anshel says. Get your vision checked.
Reading on a Kindle, iPhone, iPad or other device
Worry? Maybe. People tend to hold an electronic display closer than a book, Dr. Anshel says. “And the closer you hold something, the more you have to focus. That can lead to eyestrain.”
What to do: Of the currently available readers, choose a Kindle if you plan to read outdoors, says the doctor, because it offers “reflective luminance” (the brighter your environment, the brighter the screen). “The iPad and a lot of phones have a glossy screen, so if you use them in bright light it’s harder to see,” he adds. And Dr. Anshel recommends holding your Kindle no closer than 16 inches away.
Worry? Yes. “When we tell people to get some sun, we always tell them to wear sunglasses,” Dr. Anshel says. “Lots of studies show that ultraviolet light is a factor in cataracts.”
What to do: Buy good-quality glasses that provide UVA and UVB protection. “About 99.9 percent of drugstore glasses don’t have good lenses,” the doctor says. He recommends a visit to an eyeglasses store or department store instead: “You’ve got to spend a few extra bucks.” When shopping for sunglasses, says Dr. Anshel, hold a pair at almost arm’s length and shift them left to right. If you see any “swimming” or distortion of the image, that’s a sign that the lenses are of so-so quality. Better yet, have your eye doctor check a pair’s quality with his or her instruments.
Rubbing your eyes while wearing contacts
Worry? Probably not. “A little bit of rubbing is usually not a problem,” Dr. Anshel says.
What to do: “Do it lightly.” Also figure out what is making you rub your eyes. “If they’re itching a lot, you may have an allergy. If they’re feeling gritty, they may be drying out. Rubbing could be a sign of a problem that needs to be resolved.”
Wearing lots of eye makeup
Worry? Maybe. Eye makeup can be a problem if it covers glands in the eyelids that produce essential oils, Dr. Anshel says. These oils become the front layer of your tears and prevent them from evaporating too quickly.
What to do: When applying eye liner, avoid the thin line of tissue between the lashes and the surface of the eye.