Four Ways To Protect Your Eyes From Screen Light

Four Ways To Protect Your Eyes From Screen Light

Our favourite pieces of technology are nearly impossible to avoid, so don’t! These tips will help your eyes when it comes to all that time spent in front of screens.

Phones, Tablets, & Computer Screens all emit what we optometrists call blue light. The light that’s emitted from a phone, tablet, or computer screen is meant to help illuminate text and graphics. As a side effect, the cones and rods in our eyes are fed a constant stream of light throughout the day. This is not natural for our vision and poses the risk of overexerting our eyes as a result.

Haze Protection, Blue Light Glasses: So far technology hasn’t made many measures to protect our eyes from this blue light. There are, however, a couple of things you can do to prevent blue light from affecting your long-term vision. The first thing you can try is to download software onto your home computer which will protect your vision from harsh blue light affecting your eyes the entire day. F.lux is a donation-based software for macOS that changes the type of light your computer emits throughout the day. Unfortunately, that only covers some computers. A more consistent solution would be to ask your optometrist about blue light protection for your lenses. That way you’ll stay protected from any phone, tablet, or computer light.

Avoid Contrast and Take Breaks The world’s leading audio engineers advise young music producers to take breaks when mixing and mastering, in order to protect their ears. The same rule applies for those of us whose days are spent looking at a computer screen. In order to give your eyes a break from the harsh blue light you face for hours a day,  break up your periods of work with some other activity. Get up to look out of a window when you’re on the phone, get off your smartphone during breaks, or bring something to the office like a yo-yo, Rubik’s Cube, or juggling balls if you really want to get out of your chair! If you can make the time, these activities are great to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome as well.

At your next visit to Doig Optometry, ask us about blue light protection for your glasses. Don’t have a next appointment? Call us to make one now at 403-333-3353!

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Reading Headaches

It’s amazing the variety of symptoms that can occur from eye strain. If you’ve been noticing headaches during the day, or problems with your near or far vision, it could indicate that you require reading glasses.

How Can Issues with Distance Indicate I Need Reading Glasses? When we put strain on our eyes, it can affect different aspects of our ocular health. Many people will begin to notice issues later in the day after straining their eyes from reading in the morning or afternoon. These symptoms can manifest by light seeming spread-out while driving, or having trouble with dim light such as looking at a menu in a restaurant.

This Often Occurs Without Blurriness because eye strain happens in an attempt to compensate for blurry vision. It’s the same as squinting, but not as noticeable. Squinting usually occurs as the result of blurred vision. Headaches come as a sign before blurriness occurs. Feeling slightly nauseated can also happen in combination or after vision headaches occur. If you’re unsure if what you’re feeling is vision related, try taking a break from reading or working. If it’s vision related, the symptoms should quickly disappear.

After You Take An Eye Test notice if there’s anything in your daily routine that could be changed to prevent other vision problems from occurring. If you like to read in bed, make sure you have an adequate source of light. If you share a bed, buy your partner an eye mask so this doesn’t bother them when they try to sleep. And if you have glasses but aren’t wearing them enough, you’ll be pleased to discover the comfortable contact lenses available at Doig Optometry.

Take a break from reading right now! Call us at 403-333-3353 to book your appointment with Doig Optometry.

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Back-to-School Eye Test

When Should You Start Routine Eye Exams For Your Child? Routine eye exams should begin to take place for children at the age of 5. That’s easy to remember as it’s the age that children will start school. Remember that ocular health can affect your child both physically as well as emotionally. A routine check is important to ensure that your child is getting the most out of their education.

Is Your Child Having a Hard Time Focusing in Class Before you start to worry about issues like ADHD, hearing difficulties, or dyslexia, consider the fact that a child may just be having issues seeing a classroom board or overhead projector. When a child cannot express their difficulties learning in a classroom, it can make a lot of parents to fear the worst. With a routine eye exam there’s no need to worry!

Blue Light: The fact that children get more exposure to technology in the classroom than ever before is exciting. What hasn’t necessarily caught up with the technology is built-in eye protection to facilitate long days of looking at a screen. Some software like f.lux for macOS can protect your family from the blue light of a home computer, but good luck trying to convince the school principal to get on board with the same idea! Luckily, at Doig Optometry we can add blue light protection to any glasses, so whether or not your child does need a prescription, you can get a pair of glasses with the sole purpose of protecting your child from the screen light of phones, tablets, and computers.

Make an eye test part of your yearly back-to-school routine. We’re located at 102, 8210 MacLeod Trail, right in the Heritage Professional Centre. You can easily schedule appointments with your kids as you’re out to buy back-to-school clothes and supplies. See you soon!

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Eye Health and Nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in vision, and eating a healthy and balanced diet can maintain the health and function of the eyes, so you will always see well. What dietary choices promote overall eye health? The answers are easy to understand if you know a little bit about how the eyes work.

Free Radicals, Antioxidants, and the Macula

The macula is the highly specialized part of the retina used for reading, recognizing faces, and other detailed visual tasks. Rods and cones are the photoreceptors in the retina, and the macula has the highest concentration of cones of the entire retina. Cones are what give us detail and colour vision.  

Think about a hand drawn picture flip movie. Each individual image is seen briefly, and then the next image is seen in a slightly different position. When each picture flips quickly one after the next, our eyes recognize a “motion picture”.  Now think about how quickly your eyes must process each picture in order for you to perceive fluid motion in the actual world you live in. Your eyes “refresh” the picture much faster than the picture flip movie. Each time your eyes see and refresh the picture (about 75 to 100 times per second), your macula produces waste products. In fact, whenever the cells of your body do anything, they produce waste products. At the microscopic, cellular level, these waste products are called free radicals.  

Free radicals are molecules, atoms, or ions with an unpaired electron looking for something to attach too. At a basic level, these extra electrons damage the cells in our bodies when they attach to them. This is often referred to as oxidative stress. Thankfully, our bodies have a defense against oxidative stress. Right behind the macula, there is a special layer of cells responsible for this defense. This special layer is called the Retinal Pigment Epithelium, or RPE for short. We often call these RPE cells “the garbage man cells” of the macula. They take the free radicals, package them up, and ship them out so they can’t damage the cells in the macula. That might be a simple way of thinking about the role of the RPE cells, but simple works for us. One of the most common causes of macular degeneration is the failure of the RPE to fulfill this important role.

What does all of this have to do with nutrition? RPE cells need a steady supply of antioxidant vitamins in order to do their job and package the free radicals your macula produces. If you don’t get enough antioxidant vitamins in your diet, your garbage man cells can’t do their job, the garbage will accumulate, and eventually your macula will suffer and degenerate. That’s the basic nutritional theory about how macular degeneration happens, and why it’s a good idea for all of us to have lots of antioxidants in our diet!

Antioxidant vitamins come from fruits and vegetables with a lot of colour, such as:

  • Orange peppers

  • Blueberries, Saskatoon berries, and red grapes

  • Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots

  • Brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, green beans, and asparagus

  • Mangos, kiwi, apricots, avocados

  • Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts and hazelnuts

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale provide antioxidants, and are also fantastic sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Doctor Doig loves lutein and zeaxanthin because they are actually protective pigments that absorb ultraviolet and other forms of high energy light, including blue light.

Looking for more tips and fun facts about how your nutrition can result in healthy eyes? Don’t be afraid to reach out to Dr. Doig and the rest of the team at Doig Optometry at 403-333-3353. We’re always more than happy to help you see sharp and look sharp!


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Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Dry Eyes

In our last blog, we discussed the relationship between eye health and nutrition – specifically, between antioxidants and your macula. But there are many other ways in which nutrition and optometry interact. For example, did you know that your diet can also affect eye dryness?

The tear film in our eyes is made up three layers. The mucous layer is the innermost layer and coats surface of the eye. In the middle is the aqueous (or watery) layer, which is the thickest of the three. On the surface of the tear film is a thin, but very important oily layer. Oil floats on water, and so the oily layer is an important barrier between the tear film and the dry air in our environment. The oily layer of the tear film stops the watery layer from evaporating away. Patients with a thick, stable, healthy oily layer on the surface of their tear film almost never complain of dry eye symptoms.  

The oily layer is produced by the meibomian glands in the eyelids. There are approximately 24 meibomian glands running vertically in each upper eyelid and 12 in each lower eyelid. These glands use Omega 3 fatty acids to produce the oily meibum, which is gently squeezed out into the tear film with each blink. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, which means that your body cannot produce it. If you don’t have it in your diet, you won’t have any for your meibomian glands to use. Then your tears are more likely to evaporate away, leaving you with symptoms of dry eyes.  

The best dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids is dark, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines.  We need to eat one portion of dark fish about 5 times per week in order to get the amount of Omega 3 fatty acid our body needs in order to maintain healthy Meibomian gland function. If you don’t eat that much fish, then you may wish to supplement your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids by taking fish oil supplements daily. We need 2000 to 3000 mg (that’s about one teaspoonful) per day.  Be aware of two issues with Omega 3 fish oil supplements:

First, these types of fish swim in the oceans, and oceans can be polluted. In order to remove all the pollutants, the fish oil must be distilled. Distilling the fish oil turns it into a form that your gut will not recognize or absorb well. Turning the oil back into its natural form requires an extra step called transesterification, which is expensive. If you’ve wondered why the better products are more expensive, that’s why. The benefit to you is that fish oil in it’s natural, triglyceride form is better absorbed by up to 70%, so you’ll actually receive the benefit you’re hoping for when you take it.  

Second, Omega 3 fatty acids have some blood-thinning properties, so it’s wise to discuss the choice to take fish oil supplements with your family doctor if you are already taking blood thinners.  

While it is important to consciously include Omega 3 in your diet, we don’t recommend supplementing your intake of Omega 6 and Omega 9. Omega 6 and 9 come from seeds and grains and nuts, and since much of our beef and pork and poultry is grain fed, we get more than enough Omega 6 and 9 already in our North American diets. This is the main reason we believe it’s a good idea to consider grass-fed and grass-finished beef. When the cattle eats the grass, they also take in the bugs in the grass, which are a source of Omega 3 fatty acids to the cattle.  It’s important that the cattle are finished on grass too, since the Omega 3 will only stay in their bodies for 1 or 2 days once they switch to a grain diet on their way to slaughter.  

If you find yourself chronically suffering from dry eyes, it is likely that you need more Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. If you have any other questions about how your nutritional habits affect your eye health, feel free to contact us at Doig Optometry at 403-333-3353. You’re always happy to help you “look” your best!

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Your Eyes and High Energy Light Protection (H.E.L.P.)

Our digital world puts us all in front of some sort of screen for some portion of our day, almost every day. The growth of technology becoming part of our daily routine has impacted our lives in ways unknown to previous generations. What we want to you know is how staring at a screen almost constantly affects your eyesight.

Televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets all put us in front of screens that emit a significant amount of blue light. In a rainbow of coloured light, red is at one end of the rainbow and blue is at the other. Red light contains less energy, and blue light contains more energy. Right next to the visible blue and violet light is the ultra violet light that we can’t see. This UV light has so much energy that not only does it burn our skin, it can cause cataracts and even macular degeneration in our eyes. That’s why Dr. Doig has been recommending UV protection in his patient’s eyeglasses since he began practicing in 1996.  

As our screen time has increased through the decades, vision scientists have discovered that the high energy blue light emitted from the screens we use also affect our vision. While the debate is not yet settled about the risks of cataract and macular degeneration from blue screens, we do know that the blue light from screens can disturb our sleep patterns.  

We all have a gland in the brain called the pineal gland which regulates our sleep cycle. The pineal gland takes a signal from the amount of blue light in the environment, much like how a bright blue sky means it’s time to get up and get our work done. When the sun sets, the sky turns red and gold and yellow before the sun goes down. When the blue light in the environment disappears, the pineal gland takes its cue to tell our bodies it’s time to get ready for sleep. Unfortunately, all our screen time means that the blue light signal for wakefulness continues long into the evening, so we never really get an appropriate wind down time.  

For patients who need to protect themselves from excess exposure to High Energy Blue Light, Doig Optometry can provide lenses with blue filtering coatings that reduce blue light exposure by 15-25%.  We also have lens materials that absorb up to 95% of all blue light for complete protection.  

If you are concerned that you may need High Energy Light Protection, be sure to discuss your screen time with Dr. Doig at your next eye exam or call us at 403-333-3353.

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Digital Eye Strain

Apart from the increased amount of blue light exposure due to screen use as explained on our last blog, long hours of digital device use (especially handheld device use) can cause soreness, tiredness, and eyestrain. We refer to this sort of eyestrain as “digital eye strain”. It comes more often to those who use their devices for more than an hour or two per day for a few reasons.

We blink less when we look at digital screens. When we participate in other tasks, we usually blink between 12 and 15 times per minute. When we use digital devices that require us to look at a screen, our blinking rate is halved. This can lead to burning, stinging feelings as the eyes become more dry, especially later in the evening.

When we use electronic devices, our posture changes, especially if our devices are handheld. Since we tend to hold our smartphones and other handheld devices closer than any other screen we look at, the head and eyes turn down and the neck and shoulder muscles become sore. If we must squint at all to see the screen, the muscles of the face and eyes can become sore. This can lead to headaches and eyestrain.

Doig Optometry has partnered with several suppliers who can provide lenses designed to minimize the stress and strain of using your devices. Meanwhile, make sure your handheld devices are at least as far away as your elbow when you use them. This distance will help keep your eyes comfortable while helping you maintain a better posture for texting.  

If you are concerned that you suffer from digital eye strain, please mention this to Dr. Doig at your next eye exam. You can bring your handheld devices with you to your exam, as this will help Dr. Doig to know the distance between you and your computer screen. It’s usually different for each patient and a photo of your computer workstation will help Dr. Doig understand your viewing angles at your desk.

For more advice and options for dealing with digital eye strain, don’t hesitate to reach out to Doig Optometry at 403-333-3353. We’re always happy to help!


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Progressive Lenses and Their Measurement Factors

Progressive lenses are a sophisticated alternative for those with varying focus needs at multiple distances. They require measurements of very intricate details in order to design the best lenses for a patient’s vision.

Inter-Pupillary Distance is the most basic measurement we must obtain for your eyewear. It tells us the position of the eyes, and in particular their distance apart. When we know this measurement, we can put the very best part of your progressive lenses right in front of your eyes.  We also use this measurement to make a more accurate measure of your near point inset and down gaze angle. “What are those?” you might ask.

Near Point Inset measures the distance your eyes will turn in order to see an object that is close. If you follow a pencil moving closer and closer, your eyes will move inward towards each other so you see one single pen, not two. Knowing how far your eyes turn in when you look at close things allows us to place the best reading prescription exactly in front of your eyes when you read and when you look at your hand-held devices or the computer.   

Down Gaze Angle has to do with how far your eyes turn down when you look at something close, or up when you look at something far. Typically, we use distance vision when we look up — at a distant TV, traffic lights, movie, or presentation. The opposite is also true for near vision; we look down for nearby objects. How much is as unique as any individual patient. Petite patients will turn their eyes down less than a tall patient, and petite patients will almost always hold things closer because they have shorter arms.

There really is a lot that goes into crafting the perfect lens for you, and we pride ourselves on being a place where many Calgarians will make the switch from bifocals to progressive lenses. If you have any questions about making the switch yourself, an appointment is a great place to start. To make one now, call 403-333-3353.

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Bring Your Phone To Your Appointment

Yeah, you heard us right! We want you to bring your phone into your next Doig Optometry appointment. Why? Because phones are a large part of most people’s lives, and we read from them more than we read from paper these days. How you look at your phone can give your optometrist plenty of insight into your vision requirements, and here’s why.

How We Hold Phones determines where our near focus will be. Do you hold your phone up, or down low? It’s a difference in down gaze angle and it affects how your glasses work. But first, what is down gaze angle?

Down Gaze Angle is a measure of how much you look down when you participate in a near vision task.  Most of our near sight activities occur in the lower window of our vision, whereas our distance vision is likely to occur in the upper 50% of our vision window. This is a biological factor that all of us, as humans, have.

Studies Determine we hold our phones in three different hand positions roughly all at the same posture. 49% of us will hold our phones with one hand, tapping with our thumb. 36% of us prefer to cradle our phone with one hand and tap digits with the other hand’s finger. Finally, 15% of us will hold our phone with both hands using two thumbs to navigate. The commonality between all of these types of phone holders, however, is that we all hold our phones at an angle from which our elbow meets a resting place at the top of our hip.

This may have been a bit spooky if you were holding your phone to read our article. Were you indeed part of the common 49% or the slim 15%? It’s nice to be self aware of the habits we do on an hourly basis, so if your eyes feel tired or strained or if you have any difficulty seeing the print on your phone, call for an appointment at our Calgary location: 403-333-3353

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