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To Our Valued Patients,

With the evolving situation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and under the guidelines of the Health Officer of the Alameda and Contra-Costa Counties, our offices are open to provide eye and vision care.

Please keep in mind that in order to maintain social distancing protocols and to limit further transmission of the virus, we will be working with a reduced staff and seeing a fewer number of patients as compared to our “normal” schedule. Priority will be given to the most urgent medical cases. We will be implementing a number of measures (including altered check-in/check-out procedures, limiting the number of patients in the office and waiting room, face covering for all persons, temperature screening, etc) that will change your experience in the office. In addition, we will be ramping up our already strict disinfection policies and we will continue to monitor and abide by all local, state and, federal guidelines. Please bear with us through this new reality as these changes are designed to protect you and our staff.

We hope to see you soon and appreciate your trust in us to continue to meet your eye care needs. Stay safe and stay healthy!

The Turner Eye Institute Team

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5 Reasons To Wear Sunglasses In The Fall

When we think of fall accessories, the first things that come to mind are warm sweaters, plush scarves, or a snug pair of boots. Here’s another essential item to add to your list: a good quality pair of UV-blocking sunglasses.

But why is it so important to protect your eyes when the sun seems to be hiding behind clouds on most days? While it may not make much sense, you’ll get a better understanding by the time you finish reading this article. So let’s dive in and explore the 5 reasons you should protect your eyes from the sun in the fall.

Local Contact lens supplier near you in San Leandro, California

Sunglasses: Summer Vs. Fall

The Sun’s Position

While we may squint more in the summer, the sunlight’s path to the eyes is more direct in the fall as the sun sits closer to the horizon. This places our eyes at greater risk of overexposure to UV rays.

Changing Temperatures

Irritating symptoms like dry, red, or watery eyes are often due to the season’s cool and harsh winds. The colder the air, the stiffer and thicker the eyes’ tear oils (meibum) become. Because thicker meibum doesn’t spread as evenly over the surface of the eyes, the tears can’t offer sufficient protection and moisture.

Minimize irritation by shielding the eyes from cool winds with wraparound sunglasses.

Turner Eye Institute Eye Clinic and Sunglasses, Eye Protection and Fall Fashion in San Leandro, California

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our San Leandro eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

UV Rays

Exposing your eyes to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is problematic year-round, as it can result in serious eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. That’s why it’s important to wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses anytime you’re outdoors, no matter the season.

Make sure to sport your sunnies even on cloudy days, as up to 90% of UV rays pass through clouds. Furthermore, outdoor objects like concrete and snow reflect a significant amount of UV rays into the eyes.

Fall’s Dangerous Sun Glare

Because the sun is positioned at a lower angle in the fall, it can produce a brutal glare that poses a danger for driving. Rays of light that reflect off of smooth surfaces like the metal of nearby cars can be so bright to the point of blinding the driver.

You can combat this dangerous glare by wearing polarized sunglasses. These lenses reduce the glare’s harmful effects by filtering out horizontal light waves, such as the ones reflected by a shiny car bumper.

Local Sunglasses, Eye Protection and Fall Fashion in San Leandro, California

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Looking for Sunglasses Near You?

Here’s the bottom line: you need to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses in the fall and year-round, no matter the season or climate. Investing in a stylish pair of durable, UV-protective sunglasses is — simply-put — a worthwhile investment in your eye health.

So if you’re looking for advice about a new pair of high-quality sunglasses for the fall, with or without prescription lenses, visit Turner Eye Institute. If standard sunglass lenses are too dark for you at this time of year, ask us about green or brown tinted lenses; they transmit more light and contrast to the eyes than standard grey tints.

We’ll be happy to help you find that perfect pair to protect your eyes, suit your lifestyle needs and enhance your personal style. To learn more, call 800-339-2733 to contact our San Leandro eye doctor today.

Call Turner Eye Institute on 800-339-2733 to schedule an eye exam with our San Leandro optometrist.

Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

Lattise: An FDA Approved Eyelash Treatment

Intralase – Blades LASIK – for San Jose LASIK Patients

8 Ways to Protect Your Eyes at the Office

How to Reduce Your Risk of Cataracts

COVID-19 Office Updates

To Our Valued Patients,

With the evolving situation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and under the guidelines of the Health Officer of the Alameda and Contra-Costa Counties, we will begin the process of re-opening our offices on Monday May 4th in order to provide needed eye and vision care. Moreover, cataract and all other non-cosmetic surgical procedures will soon resume.

Please keep in mind that in order to maintain social distancing protocols and to limit further transmission of the virus, we will be working with a reduced staff and seeing a fewer number of patients as compared to our “normal” schedule. Priority will be given to the most urgent medical cases. We will be implementing a number of measures (including altered check-in/check-out procedures, limiting the number of patients in the office and waiting room, face covering for all persons, temperature screening, etc) that will change your experience in the office. In addition, we will be ramping up our already strict disinfection policies and we will continue to monitor and abide by all local, state and, federal guidelines. Please bear with us through this new reality as these changes are designed to protect you and our staff.

We hope to see you soon and appreciate your trust in us to continue to meet your eye care needs. Stay safe and stay healthy!

The Turner Eye Institute Team

woman holding eyeIs It Eye Allergies or Dry Eyes?

Eye Allergy and Dry Eye symptoms tend to be very similar. They both include redness, itchiness, tearing, and a gritty or burning sensation in the eyes.

 

Is it really an allergic reaction, or could it be Dry Eyes? Before running to the pharmacy for some antihistamines, it would be worth digging into the cause of these reactions in order to assure that you’re choosing the right treatment option.

If you’ve been using artificial tears, prescription allergy medication, or other over the counter medicine to relieve the itchy, dry feeling, but see no improvement— it may be worth visiting the Dry Eye Center at Turner Eye Institute and speaking with Dr. Chirag R. Patel, who can provide a diagnosis and solution for your condition.

What’s the Difference Between Eye Allergies and Dry Eyes?

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, occur when the eyes react to elements that irritate them (allergens). One can develop eye allergies from pet dander, dust, pollen, smoke, perfumes, or even certain foods. To fight off the allergen, the eyes produce a substance called histamine, which causes the eyelids to become red, swollen and itchy — and at times to tear and burn. Those with eye allergies tend to experience nasal allergies as well, which include an itchy, stuffy nose, along with frequent sneezing.

People with Dry Eyes suffer from eyes that feel dry, itchy, swollen, irritated, and at times very painful. Dry eye syndrome can be developed as a result of genetics, age, environment, lifestyle, medications, and the overall health of your eyes. When one has dry eyes, the eyes are either not producing enough tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication.

How Are Eye Allergies and Dry Eyes Treated?

eye drops

Eye allergies can be treated using artificial tears, medicated eye drops, decongestants, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on your specific case, Dr. Chirag R. Patel may recommend a combination of treatments.

However, if it is determined that you have dry eyes, Dr. Chirag R. Patel may suggest artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to alleviate the discomfort, and in some cases, may even prescribe drops or steroids. For patients with more acute cases of dry eyes, the doctor might suggest alternative treatment options, such as LipiFlow, True Tear, TearCare or scleral lenses.

If you’re suffering from any of the above symptoms, speak with , who will examine and thoroughly assess the source of these reactions, determine whether they are caused by allergies or Dry Eyes, and provide the right treatment.

The Dry Eye Center at Turner Eye Institute services patients from San Leandro, Concord, Castro Valley, Alameda, and throughout California.

Spring Dry Eyes

woman applying eyedroppers, close upSpring is a time of renewal, when the harsh winter is just a memory and the outdoors seem to beckon us to go outside. While spring may be in the air, so are allergens. Allergies during the spring season can cause dry eyes and have a particularly severe effect on people with Dry Eye Syndrome.

During the spring months, pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust can be found in the air. These airborne allergens can trigger uncomfortable reactions like itchy, red, and watery eyes, as well as sneezing and sinus congestion. At The Practice Name Dry Eye Center, we can offer you long-term relief for your seasonal dry eyes.

How Do The Seasons Affect Dry Eyes?

Although certain people with sensitivities to allergens may be more prone to allergic reactions, the seasons of the year can trigger these responses, too. In the winter, for instance, dry eyes can develop in people who live in climates with a lot of dry, cold air or strong winds. Sitting in direct aim of a heater may feel wonderful when it’s cold, but it can also dry out the eyes. In the summer when the heat is intense and people run their air conditioning systems regularly, dry eyes can develop from being in the direction of cold air.

A 5-year study found that 21% of the 3.4 million visits to an eye doctor during that time were related to dry eyes. Each year, there was a peak during April, proving that there is a likely correlation between allergens and dry eye cases.

Common Symptoms Of Seasonal Dry Eyes

The most common symptoms of dry eyes in the spring are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Burning
  • Gritty feeling
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Watery eyes

It may seem odd, but watery eyes are a frequent symptom of dry eyes. It’s the body’s way of trying to self-heal the dryness by releasing excess tears, a condition called Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS). This condition gives some relief, but because these tears contain an inadequate amount of water, the relief is temporary and more long-lasting options are needed.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with The Practice Name Dry Eye Center. We have the knowledge, years of experience, latest technologies, and effective solutions to give you relief for your dry eyes this spring season.

Relief For Dry Eyes In The Springtime

Close up of blue eyeDry Eye Doctor Name treats patients from all over CITY 1, State who are suffering from seasonal dry eyes. Depending on your specific case and the intensity of your symptoms, the doctor may recommend daily artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to alleviate the pain. These can stimulate your eye’s natural tear production to moisturize the eyes and provide comfort. In some cases, prescription drops or steroids can produce similar results.

For patients with severe types of dry eyes, the doctor may talk to you about punctual plugs. These are tiny devices that are inserted inside the tear duct. They block your tears from draining out, which forces them to stay in your eye, coating and moisturizing the area.

Have you heard about scleral lenses? These are contact lenses that are made from rigid materials and contain a tiny pool of water, which provides moisture to dry eyes. Scleral lenses have a large diameter that covers the entire sclera (white part of the eye) without touching the cornea, so they can fit more comfortably. Because each person’s eye is unique, scleral lenses must be custom-fitted for each patient.

When It’s More Than Allergies

If your symptoms persist long after spring is over, and especially if they worsen, this may indicate signs of a more serious eye condition.

Examples can include any of the following:

  • Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Corneal Abrasions
  • Dry Eye Disease
  • Styes (an oil gland infection that causes a bump in the eyelid

We hope you take the time to enjoy this spring season. Should you experience any visual discomfort or are naturally prone to dry eyes, contact Dry Eye Doctor Name and the caring staff at The Practice Name Dry Eye Center. We’ll examine your eyes and discuss your personal needs to create an action plan that’s right for you.



Get Ready for Summer, Get LASIK

LASIK eye surgery, Eye Doctor in San Leandro, Concod, and Castro Valley, CA

Now is the time to start thinking about summer and your vision. As you dream about all those sizzling weekend escapes to the shore, you’re probably also checking out the trending fashions for beachwear. Don’t forget about your eyes! A pair of designer sunglasses is a fantastic way to upgrade your look and see clearly on sunny days. However, if you need prescription eyeglasses to see, then you’ll need a pair of prescription sunglasses. If you’re not thrilled with the idea of carrying around two pairs of glasses, one for indoors and one for outdoors, we have a better summer solution for you – LASIK eye surgery at Turner Eye Institute, located in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley, CA.

What do you have to gain from LASIK?

The benefits of LASIK are particularly appreciated during the summer months. While prescription sunglasses are fine for strolling the streets, they won’t help you see underwater. Also, they don’t offer the wide peripheral vision that you need for summer sports. And although contact lenses can offer an alternative to prescription glasses, anyone who has ever spent a day at the beach in contacts will understand how uncomfortable it can be for your eyes. Even the tiniest grain of sand on your contacts can ruin your carefree day with excruciating, painful vision. In addition, wearing contacts when you swim is an unhealthy practice that threatens the health of your eyes.

LASIK solves all of these summer challenges, giving you safe, healthy, and crystal-clear vision both underwater and on dry ground. LASIK laser eye surgery also allows you to pick up a pair (or many pairs) of stylish nonprescription sunglasses for a much cheaper price than buying prescription sunglasses.

What exactly is LASIK?

LASIK is a modern, popular method of laser eye surgery to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), an

female eye closeup digital, Eye Care in San Leandro, Concod, and Castro Valley, CA

d astigmatism. In the comfort of our eye care centers in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley, our eye surgeon will use a laser to make a thin corneal flap. This flap will be laid back in order to provide access to the inner part of the cornea, which our eye doctor will reshape by removing microscopic amounts of tissue with a laser. After this part of the procedure, the flap is replaced in position and eye drops are inserted.

How fast does LASIK work?

This eye surgery usually takes about 10-15 minutes total, and many patients report improvement immediately – as soon as they sit up from the surgery.

How long does it take to recover from LASIK?

Recovery is fast and typically, very little discomfort is experienced. You may experience light sensitivity, mild irritation, and some visual side effects from the eye surgery, which will all be temporary and typically disappear within a few weeks. In order to fully enjoy your summer with your new vision after LASIK, we recommend planning ahead! To make the most of LASIK, book your laser eye surgery with Dr. Patel at Turner Eye Institute before the seasons switch.

Plan your LASIK eye surgery in time for summer

Don’t wait until the day before summer vacation – call our eye care clinics in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord, CA, to schedule a pre-operative consultation and get started with your new vision today.

Am I a good candidate for PRK?

Criteria for PRK laser eye surgery

lasik eye surgery at Turner Eye Institute in San Leandro, Concord and Castro Valley CARight after LASIK, PRK is one of the most commonly performed laser eye surgery options. These two procedures are very similar, but also have significant differences. Neither laser eye surgery is always better than the other, but one of them is likely better for you! Depending on your personal needs and unique vision condition, your eye doctor will decide whether PRK or LASIK is the best fit.

PRK and LASIK use the same basic laser eye surgery technology, yet LASIK involves cutting a flap to access the corneal tissue, and in PRK, your eye surgeon will remove the outer layer (epithelium) entirely. How does your eye doctor determine whether you are a good candidate for PRK? Our eye doctor at Turner Eye Institute explains.

Candidacy for PRK

Your eye doctor will meet with you to discuss your lifestyle requirements and to perform a detailed eye exam to check if you qualify for PRK. The following variables will be considered:

Vision prescription

PRK is used most commonly to correct myopia (nearsightedness). PRK is generally the preferred laser eye surgery to treat severe myopia.

Corneal thickness

This is important because of the different ways that LASIK vs. PRK are performed. During LASIK, a corneal flap is created. To be safe and effective, this requires a thicker cornea. In contrast, PRK laser eye surgery doesn’t entail cutting a flap. That’s why it is a popular, suitable option for people with thin corneas who do not qualify for LASIK.

Type of employment or occupation

The corneal flap created during LASIK is contraindicated for people who work in certain industries, such as construction, military, or manufacturing careers. That’s because the risk of eye trauma is higher in these jobs, which increases the possible risks of the corneal flap. Our Turner Eye Institute eye doctor often recommends PRK instead of LASIK for patients who are employed in these fields.

Hobbies

Just like LASIK isn’t always the best option for certain occupations, it’s also not recommended for people who play contact sports or engage in martial arts and other types of high-intensity activities. These hobbies expose the eyes to potential trauma, and PRK may therefore be the preferable solution for laser eye surgery.

Ultimately, only a qualified eye doctor can decide which laser eye surgery is right for you. To find out more about PRK, contact Turner Eye Institute for a consultation.

Schedule A Free Lasik Consultation

3 Q’s You Need to Ask Your LASIK Surgeon

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What you need to know when choosing a doctor for vision correction

Did you decide that it’s time to get LASIK and finally get rid of your eyewear? We applaud your decision and wish you success with your new vision! But before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few important questions you should ask your eye surgeon.

LASIK was approved as an advanced vision correction surgery in the US back in 1999. Since then, its popularity has grown considerably and many doctors currently offer this procedure in their eye care clinics. With so many choices out there, how can you decide which eye surgeon to use? To boost your confidence in choosing the best eye care center and surgeon for your LASIK surgery, our staff at Turner Eye Institute outlined the top 3 questions for you to ask:

  1. How many laser vision correction procedures have you done?

Experience is essential. A reputable eye surgeon should welcome any questions about his or her qualifications and expertise. Nowadays, it isn’t unusual for a highly experienced doctor to have performed over 25,000 LASIK surgeries. In our offices in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley, CA, we’ve provided tens of thousands of patients with crisp vision with laser eye surgery! We are proud to have a long-standing record of excellent results and outstanding surgical outcomes.

2. Do you own your own eye care practice?

Bottom line – you want an eye doctor who is dedicated to you and your vision. Generally, the owner of a private eye care practice will be much more committed to providing exceptional service and ensuring patient satisfaction than someone who simply clocks in and out. In addition to the actual surgical procedure, the preoperative consultation and postoperative care are important parts of the entire LASIK process. At Turner Eye Institute, Dr. Patel is passionate about helping his patients navigate every step of vision correction comfortably.

3. Do you offer alternate options for vision correction?

LASIK isn’t for everyone. People with a thin cornea, certain pre-existing medical conditions, or an extremely high vision prescription are not always good candidates for this type of laser eye surgery. That’s why it is important to ask about alternate options and explore what’s best for you. If your eye doctor does a preoperative eye exam and determines that LASIK isn’t a viable solution, why go back to square one to research for a new eye care practice? You want an eye surgeon who is skilled in different types of surgery, such as PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, and conductive keratoplasty (CK). Our eye doctor in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord, CA, is experienced in performing many procedures, using both laser and non-laser technologies.

What’s the Connection Between Corneal Cross-linking and Your Local Deli?

Eye doctor, woman brown eye close up in San Leandro, Concord & Castro Valley, CA

Before we address the issue of what corneal cross-linking and buying deli meats have in common, let’s talk about what cross-linking (CXL) is, and who it can help.

Corneal cross-linking is an advanced, FDA-approved treatment for keratoconus. Keratoconus is characterized by a thinner-than-normal, weak cornea that bulges forwards into a cone shape, instead of lying flat like a healthy cornea. Due to this unhealthy shape, vision is blurred or distorted. We offer collagen corneal crosslinking in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord as a breakthrough treatment to help prevent additional bulging of the cornea when you have keratoconus.

Cross-linking Slows Keratoconus

This revolutionary treatment aims to strengthen the cornea in order to slow or stop the progression of corneal warpage. It is a promising procedure that has led to many positive outcomes, with minimal risk.

Crosslinking adds special bonds in between the collagen fibers that you have in your eye, and these fibers function to support and stabilize the cornea. It thereby strengthens the corneal tissues, which reduces the degree of protrusion and may improve vision too (as a side benefit).

Although CXL is was only approved by the FDA for use in the US in 2016. it was approved for use in Europe over a decade ago and has already been performed on tens of thousands of patients. In fact, it is regarded as the one and only treatment to slow the deterioration of keratoconus, which may help you to avoid a corneal transplant.

The Basic CXL Procedure

This is where we will explain what crosslinking shares with the deli counter! CXL is a painless procedure that we perform in the comfort of our modern eye care centers in Castro Valley, Concord, and San Leandro. First, our eye doctor will insert eye drops of specialized riboflavin (B-vitamin) solution on your cornea for about half an hour. (We will also provide something to relax your nerves!) Afterward, your eyes will be exposed to 10-30 minutes of UVA light, which is similar in intensity to the sterilizing blue lights that your local deli shines to keep the counter hygienic.

Now you just need to wait for results! Usually, initial results are noticed within one week, and most of the effects are experienced within a month.

A Closer Look at the Types of Corneal Crosslinking

Actually, there are two types of crosslinking: epi-off and epi-on. “Epi” stands for epithelium, the layer of tissue that coats your cornea.

With epi-off, your eye doctor will remove the epithelium before inserting the eye drops. Some studies have shown that this facilitates better absorption of the vitamins and light. But it may also be riskier, and it takes longer for eyes to heal after CXL. Complete recuperation averages about 4-10 days, but could take as long as a few weeks. During that time, you’ll need to wear soft contacts for about a week and use medicated eye drops for up to two weeks.

With epi-on, your epithelium is left intact. That means you’ll have a fully painless experience and a shorter recovery. However, at present the FDA has only given official approval for the epi-off type of procedure.

Candidacy for Crosslinking

If you have keratoconus or a different corneal disorder, CXL may be an appropriate treatment to slow the progression of your corneal protrusion. Our eye doctor will perform a thorough eye exam to determine if your eyes are suitable for this progressive therapy.

Corneal Cross-linking in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley

Want to know more? Contact our eye doctors at Turner Eye Institute, in Concord, San Leandro, and Castro Valley to discuss corneal cross-linking as an effective way to manage your keratoconus.

Can staring at a computer screen really damage my eyes?

Eye doctor, Man Glasses Working Laptop in San Leandro, Concord & Castro Valley

If you were asked to name the sight you look at for the most hours per day, it would probably be your computer screen. (Right?) In our high-tech world, we look at digital monitors way more than we stare out the window at the landscape or gaze into human eyes. And according to many studies and opinions from the professional eye care field, all of this time spent staring at computer screens is dangerous for your vision.

The typical, immediate response to this point of view is to ask – How does staring at my computer hurt my eyes? Our eye doctors at Turner Eye Institute, in San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley explain.

Your Computer Blocks Your Blinks

A primary problem of looking at digital screens for hours on end is that you blink less. Normally, you blink about 16x per minute, but when focusing on a screen you may only blink about 4x a minute. That’s why you probably stop periodically to rub your sore eyes.

When you don’t blink enough, the moist layer on the surface of your eyes will evaporate more quickly. This leads to irritation, red eyes, and blurry vision. In our eye care centers in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord, our optometrists commonly diagnose dry eye syndrome caused by staring at computers.

Fortunately, the remedy for this problem is pretty easy. Take breaks and blink. Every 20 minutes, look into the distance (across the room may be far enough) for 20 seconds, and remember to blink. This can help prevent the symptoms of dry eyes that are caused by extended computer usage.

Blue Light Can Be Bad for Eye Health

Blue light wavelengths are short and high-energy, which makes them flicker. This flickering –even though it is very subtle – can tire your eyes and lead to headaches or eye irritation. A trendy pair of blue light blocking eyeglasses or contact lenses can help prevent these pesky wavelengths from bothering your eyes.

Computers Can Affect Your Future Vision

Eyes have melanin, a protective component that helps to filter out dangerous blue light and minimize its effects on your inner eye tissues. However, the natural production of melanin decreases with age. Recent scientific studies demonstrate that the massive quantities of blue light hitting our eyes every day has increased the risks of several sight-threatening eye problems, such as macular degeneration and retinal damage.

Solutions for Computer Vision in San Leandro, Castro Valley, and Concord

Computer vision, which is a term that embraces all of the irritating eye symptoms that staring at computers can cause, can be resolved by wearing specialized computer glasses, practicing healthier viewing habits, rearranging the position of your monitor in relation to your eyes, and adding protective blue light filters to your screen or eyeglasses lenses.

Our San Leandro, Concord, and Castro Valley eye doctors know all about the ways to help keep your eyes safe – even when staring at a computer day in and day out! Contact our eye care office to book an appointment today.

Is Too Much Screen Time Dangerous For Your Kids?

Screen Time Pros and Cons

Whether it is homework, email, gaming, chatting with friends, searching the web or watching Youtube, kids these days seem to have an endless number of reasons to be glued to a screen. Many parents out there are wondering how bad this can be for their kids and whether they should be limiting screen time.

There are certainly benefits to allowing your kids to use digital devices, whether it is educational, social or providing a needed break. However, studies show that excessive screen time can have behavioral consequences such as irritability, moodiness, inability to concentrate, poor behavior, and other issues as well. Too much screen time is also linked to dry eyes and meibomian gland disorders (likely due to a decreased blink rate when using devices), as well as eye strain and irritation, headaches, back or neck and shoulder pain, and sleep disturbances. Some of these computer vision syndrome symptoms are attributed to blue light that is emitted from the screens of digital devices.

Blue light is a short wavelength, high-energy visible light that is emitted by digital screens, LED lights and the sun. Studies suggest that exposure to some waves of blue light over extended periods of time may be harmful to the light-sensitive cells of the retina at the back of the eye. When these cells are damaged, vision loss can occur. Research indicates that extreme blue light exposure could lead to macular degeneration or other serious eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness. Studies show that blue light also interferes with the regulation of the the body’s circadian rhythm which can have a disruptive impact on the body’s sleep cycle. Lack of quality sleep can lead to serious health consequences as well.

Beyond these studies, the long term effects of blue light exposure from digital devices are not yet known since this is really the first generation in which people are using digital devices to such an extent. While it may take years to fully understand the impact of excessive screen time on our eyes and overall health, it is probably worth limiting it due to these preliminary findings and the risks it may pose. This is especially true for young children and the elderly, who are particularly susceptible to blue light exposure.

How to Protect the Eyes From Blue Light

The first step in proper eye protection is abstaining from excessive exposure by limiting the amount of time spent using a computer, smart phone or tablet – especially at night, to avoid interfering with sleep. Many pediatricians even recommend zero screen time for children under two.

The next step would be to reduce the amount of blue light entering the eyes by using blue light blocking glasses or coatings that deflect the light away from the eyes. There are also apps and screen filters that you can add to your devices to reduce the amount of blue light being projected from the screen. Speak to your eye doctor about steps you can take to reduce blue light exposure from digital devices.

As a side note, the sun is an even greater source of blue light so it is essential to protect your child’s eyes with UV and blue light blocking sunglasses any time your child goes outside – even on overcast days.

The eyes of children under 18 are particularly susceptible to damage from environmental exposure as they have transparent crystalline lenses that are more susceptible to both UV and blue light rays. While the effects (such as increased risk of age-related macular degeneration) may not be seen for decades later, it’s worth it to do what you can now to prevent future damage and risk for vision loss.

 

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