Video Games and Children

Video Games and Children

As with television viewing, eye care professionals generally agree that video games will not harm your child’s eyes or vision if you follow a few viewing tips. While there is usually less strain involved in gaming than in doing close work such as sewing or reading, being in front of a screen for long stretches of time can leave your eyes feeling dry, strained and fatigued. Depending on your child’s vision, their eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even children with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches while playing video games.

To help ease the stress of video games on your child’s eyes, consider the following tips:

  • Make playrooms eye-friendly by reducing glare and offering soft overall lighting.
  • Encourage periodic breaks from computer and video screens to give eyes a break. Balance video game time with plenty of creative, outdoor and quiet play.
  • Keep their screen free of fingerprints and dust, as both can reduce vision clarity.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, encourage your child to take a 20 second break and to focus their eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This will give their eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
  • Remind them to blink. Did you know that on average we blink 12 times per minute, but when we’re in front of a screen, we only blink 5 times per minute? That can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by reminding your child to blink.
  • Discourage playing video games in a dark room. When the room is totally dark, the contrast between the screen and the surrounding area is too great for comfortable and efficient vision. When the room is softly illuminated, undesirable contrast is kept to a minimum.
  • Adapt the screen’s brightness and contrast to room lighting. This will ensure visual compatibility, as excessively bright lighting tends to reduce contrast on the screen and “wash out” the picture.
  • Encourage your child to sit away from the screen. Though close-up viewing is generally not harmful, viewing at a distance allows for picture details to appear sharper and better defined and the screen lines and defects will be less apparent. If your child persists in playing video games from a short distance, schedule an eye examination to rule out nearsightedness.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

With so many of us spending time in front of the computer every day, it’s no surprise that research is showing a rise in the detection of visual problems. Depending on your vision, your eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with improper computer use.

To help reduce the risk of CVS, also called Digital Eyestrain, consider the following tips:

  • Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes and 20 degrees below eye level.
  • Set colour and contrast tones to suit your eyes, and match the brightness of your screen with your surroundings.
  • Minimize reflected glare on your screen by using dimmer switches on lights and a protective anti-glare screen cover. Also consider positioning your screen so that it sits perpendicular to windows and other bright light sources. If you are having trouble locating the source of the glare, turn off your monitor to reveal a darkened screen, and tilt/swivel your monitor until the reflection disappears.
  • Keep your screen free of fingerprints and dust, as both can reduce visual clarity.
  • If you alternate between looking at your screen and paperwork, consider obtaining a clipboard that attaches alongside your monitor so that the two are at the same working distance.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away (the water cooler, possibly?). This will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
  • Remember to blink! Did you know that on average we blink 12 times per minute, but when we’re on the computer, we only blink 5 times per minute? That can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial teardrops or gels and remembering to blink. Consult your optometrist to determine which eye drops are best to relieve your dry eyes.
  • Ask for anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses, which can be applied at the time of manufacturing, to protect your eyes from bright and/or flickering light sources such as fluorescent lights. Your Doctor of Optometry can even talk to you about eyewear designed specifically for computer use.

While symptoms like headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes, pain in the eyes or excessive blinking or squinting are all common effects of CVS, any time you experience these symptoms, you should book an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination. These symptoms may also indicate a more serious vision problem.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes and Your Eyes

What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that prevents your body from making or using insulin, which in turn leads to increased sugar levels in your bloodstream, known as high blood sugar.

How does diabetes affect the eye?
Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye. Diabetes can cause changes in your prescription as well as cataracts, glaucoma, paralysis of the nerves that control the eye muscles or pupil, and decreased corneal sensitivity. Visual symptoms of diabetes include fluctuating or blurring of vision, occasional double vision, loss of visual field, and flashes and floaters within the eyes. Sometimes these early signs of diabetes are first detected in a thorough examination performed by an optometrist. The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.

What is retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the retina of your eye, resulting in blood leakage, the growth of new blood vessels and other changes. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, blindness can result.

Can vision loss from diabetes be prevented?
Yes, in a routine eye examination, we can diagnose potential vision threatening changes in your eye that may be treated to prevent blindness. However, once damage has occurred, the effects are usually permanent. It is important to control your diabetes, as well as your blood pressure, as much as possible to minimize your risk of developing retinopathy.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?
In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy is monitored through eye health examinations. If necessary, it may be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF therapy (Lucentis, Avastin) or laser therapy. A bright beam of light is focused on the retina, causing a laser burn that seals off leaking blood vessels. In other cases, retinal surgery may be necessary. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial, as treatment is much more likely to be successful at an early stage.

Are there risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy?
Several factors that increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy include smoking, high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and pregnancy.

How can diabetes-related eye problems be prevented?
Monitor and maintain control of your diabetes. Know your HbA1c values (your three month blood sugar measurement at the lab) and how to interpret them. See your physician regularly and follow instructions about diet, exercise and medication. See your optometrist for a thorough eye examination when you are first diagnosed with diabetes, at least annually thereafter and more frequently if recommended. A thorough diabetic examination involves examining the peripheral edges of the inside of the eye. This can be done ONLY with dilation or with a wide-field Optomap retinal scan. At Stickle & Strawn Optometry we have one of the only four Optomaps in the BC interior. Dilation drops are not required and the images obtained are used for comparison during future examinations. Retinal imaging is the best way to monitor for diabetic changes and is included in all full examinations at our office.

How do I prepare for a diabetic eye examination?
Bring a list of your medications, know your most recent HbA1c measurement, know your blood pressure and come on a day when your blood sugar is YOUR AVERAGE. High blood sugar increases the nearsightedness measured during your examination and can yield glasses that are not accurate.

Children and UV Exposure

Children and UV Exposure

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is an invisible component of sunlight that is most commonly known to cause sunburns and skin cancers. While some UV is filtered by the ozone layer, increasing amounts are reaching the earth as the ozone layer steadily diminishes.

Exposure to UV is cumulative, and direct contact with sunlight for even short periods of time can lead to several long-term eye health problems – many of which begin symptom-free. Because children spend more time outdoors than the average adult, they receive approximately three times the annual adult dose of UV. Additionally, because the crystalline lens in children’s eyes has less capability to filter UV than in adult eyes, they are at a greater risk of internal eye damage, including cataracts and macular degeneration, later in life. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to damaging UV radiation occurs before age 18.

Protecting your child now will decrease the potential for serious eye problems later in life. To help reduce UV radiation damage to your child’s eyes, consider the following tips:

  • Be conscious of the daily UV index and the many sources of UV radiation, including direct sunlight and reflections from snow, water, sand and pavement.
  • Have your child wear sun protection, such as sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap, when outdoors.
  • Teach your children to never look directly into or stare at the sun.
  • Keep children out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Keep children younger than six months out of direct sunlight. Use a canopy or umbrella as a sun-shield when outdoors.

If your child requires prescription glasses, consider:

  • Variable tint or Transitions® lenses that darken when exposed to UV light
  • A separate pair of spectacles with tinted lenses and UV400 protective coating for outdoor use
  • Contact lenses with UV protection. They can be an added layer to help protect harmful UV radiation from reaching the cornea and into your child’s eye.

If your child does not require prescription glasses, choose over-the-counter sunglasses with:

  • A close-fitting, wrap around style frame
  • 100% UVA and UVB blocking lenses
  • Impact resistant lenses

While tests have shown that inexpensive sunglasses can provide full UV protection, the quality of materials and consistency of the tints may be inferior. Such imperfections can distort vision, causing a mild headache or eyestrain when sunglasses are worn. To ensure that your child is wearing a good quality product, buy from a reputable professional or retailer, or have the glasses assessed by your optometrist.

Transitions is a registered trademark of Transitions Optical, Inc.

Why Your Electronics are Keeping You Awake at Night

Why Your Electronics are Keeping You Awake at Night

Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted…

Read More

Eye See … Eye Learn®

Eye See … Eye Learn®

A program of BC Doctors of Optometry
Eye See … Eye Learn® and Fribbit are registered trademarks of the Alberta Association of Optometrists.

fribbitOur doctors, Dr. Stickle, Dr. Strawn, and Dr. Ashley, are delighted to participate in Eye See … Eye Learn® to bring good vision and eye care to our Kindergarten patients.

In Eye See … Eye Learn®, Kindergarten children are provided with doctor-delivered eye health and vision care, and when there is a vision disorder, prescription eyeglasses at no charge.

We know that young children’s academic and developmental success depend greatly upon their ability to see clearly and comfortably. We know how important it is that they get a good start in their young lives, and we are determined that there be no financial deterrent barring them from enjoying good vision.

We take this opportunity to thank Essilor Vision Foundation, OGI Eyewear and 20/20 Accessory Source Ltd. for their generous corporate sponsorship for Eye See … Eye Learn®.

School Districts in partnership with Eye See … Eye Learn® are:

Abbotsford (SD 34), Burnaby (SD 41), Central Okanagan (SD 23), Chilliwack (SD 33), Coquitlam (SD 43), Cowichan Valley (SD 79), Delta (SD 37), Greater Victoria (SD 61), Langley (SD 35), Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows (SD 42), Mission (SD 75), Nanaimo-Ladysmith (SD 68), New Westminster (SD 40), Prince George (SD 57), Saanich (SD 63), Surrey (SD 36), and FISA*. *FISA schools located in these school districts are also eligible.

To learn more about the program, visit Eye See … Eye Learn®.