Did you know that we help patients from all over the world? Sometimes patients make the trip just to see us for specialty services. Sometimes they come for Florida vacation and tack on an eye exam. For years we have kept a digital map showing wearing patients come from.
We have a new display at Bright Eyes: a world map with pins showing where everyone one is from. All the areas around the country that patients have come from.
The different services we provide are indicated by color coded pins.
We can’t wait to fill up the map! If you come from somewhere without a pin, be sure and add one! And if you are from out of town, you check out the page that we have just for you.
At Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids, we love to celebrate the creativity of our young patients!
When you walk in the front door, you are greeted with a display of different kinds of artwork. We currently have drawings of monsters, a painting of the US flag and well as some Pokemon. There is also a gift to Dr. Nate in Simpson-ized fashion and a Lego Mosaic that Dr. Nate did of a close up of an eye. Below we have a display line packed with crayon drawings of our very youngest patients.
We need to freshen up our children’s art display with your kid’s work!
See if your children would like to donate:
Anything else you can think of!
All you have to do is drop of the work at Bright Eyes Kids (15303 Amberly Drive). If the work is frameable, we frame it before hanging it up. If not, we’ll do our best. Be sure to let us know who to give credit to! Don’t give us anything too precious, because we cannot promise that we will be able to return it in the future.
You know that your kids are artistic geniuses – let them show off their work!!
You may have noticed that children’s vision and myopia have been in the news a lot. The New York Times. CNBC.Somanyothers. This is in part due to the concerns over changes in behavior during the pandemic. Not only have many children been E-learning, but even children who are at brick-and-mortar schools are using devices more and been outside less. Research shows this puts them at higher risk for developing myopia.
Just to be clear. “Nearsightedness” is the description we give where people can see up close but not far away. “Myopia” is the condition where the eye grows too long, causing nearsightedness and risk for eye diseases.
The Brien Holden Vision Institute, the preeminent organization for myopia research and education based in Australia, has established the Myopia Awareness Week from May 24 to 28. This global initiative will to bring attention to the growing epidemic of myopia in children across the world. This is an important topic because myopia is worsening around the world. It is estimated that by 2050, half of the population will be myopic.
Fortunately, there is good news. Evidence has shown that increased outdoor time decreases the risk for myopia. Recently the FDA approved MiSight 1-Day contact lenses for controlling myopia progression. Johnson & Johnson has very recently announced their FDA Abiliti orthokeratology brand. Essilor announced that the FDA has granted “Breakthrough Device” designation to its Essilor Stellest™ spectacle lens which are developed to correct myopia and slow down the progression of myopia in children. Additionally, off-label of multifocal contacts, orthokeratology, and atropine are all considerations for myopia control.
Summer is the best time to get students ready for the next school year. I see many children whose myopia has progressed a lot this year, and they are unaware of it. An eye exam is necessary to determine this. If you have questions about myopia management, simply call us at (813) 792-0637 or request an appointment.
One positive note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was honored to complete my Fellowship in the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control. This makes me one of the few optometrists in the world with Fellowship in American Academy of Optometry, Academy, Orthokeratology and Myopia Control, and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.
You can listen in the player below or read the transcript. The show is available via Stitcher, iTunes, and the webplayer below. You can find all previous episodes here. If you have any questions or suggestions for future episodes, please email office@BrightEyesTampa.com.
Welcome to the Bright Eyes podcast. Advice for healthy vision for all ages. Your hosts are doctor Nate Bonilla-Warford and Dr. Beth Knighton. Residency trained optometrist providing eye care to all ages with exams for glasses and contacts and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, Ortho-kertology and sports vision training. Their mission is to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional and individualized eyecare.
00:00:38: From rainy Tampa bay Florida. It’s the Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number 16. I’m Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford and today’s episode is all about children and computers, specifically children’s vision and computers. Now, about seven years ago I wrote a blog post about my love hate relationship with Minecraft and the reason why I wrote that was because so many of my patients who are children were talking about Minecraft incessantly they would come in wearing Minecraft shirts and Minecraft shorts and Minecraft shoes. And because I was encountering it so often in the exam room, I checked it out and this is what I thought. Minecraft is great for stimulating community and creativity. It is very, very cool in that regard, but it can create a lot of eyestrain from hours and hours of computer use for kids and adults. So fast forward to 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic is still an issue in our lives and many of our patients have been e learning, I have one child who’s still learning at home, the other one has gone back to classroom school. But one thing I’ve noticed is even the kids who are in the classrooms are using computers and devices more than ever before. And this gives me a little bit of anxiety because I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to educate parents and educate children about the proper ways to use devices and computers to limit visual problems.
00:02:28: And starting about five years ago to you know, two or three years ago, I really started to see a lot of improvement in parents understanding that they do need to set screen time and digital device time limits and that was making a lot of a lot of progress. And so I was seeing a lot of progress in that regard and it was pretty fantastic. Well now with the pandemic, all of that is out the window. And so now I am talking about this all day every day with even more intensity so early on in the pandemic when most of my patients were doing either like virtual learning or relearning or home schooling or some version of that. I was looking around for a authoritative guide that had been put out by one of the organizations specifically to address the proper ways that children should use computers for e learning to limit visual strain and reduce the likelihood of visual problems. And as it turns out, I couldn’t really find something that was exactly as comprehensive as what I was looking for. There was lots of different pieces of information out there, but they sort of weren’t in any one place. So I spent quite a bit of time putting together a guide for e learners to reduce visual strain and vision problems. And what I figured out right away is it’s really important this information for e learners, but so many children are using computers in the classroom. Like I said that it’s not just for the learners. In fact, this information is really good for children of all ages who are in any sort of educational program because most of them do use computers on some level.
00:04:37: So what I’m going to do for this podcast is go over the guide that I wrote for the learners keeping in mind that is applicable to almost all children these days. Now, of course I’m going to put the link to the guide in the show notes, but you can find it right here at bright eyes Tampa dot com slash e dash learning dash guide. So let’s dive right in. So why is this guide important? It’s important for two reasons. Most people understand that children or adults who worked extensively at a computer for either their job or school are at risk for having different types of visual problems. And those problems can be eyestrain. They can be headaches, they could be blurred vision, they can have feeling of dry eyes, they could have uh neck or shoulder issues if their workstation isn’t set up properly. And so those are all of the short term problems that children can have. However, there also are long term problems that children can have. There’s a lot of discussion right now about the pandemic, causing a significant increase in myopia, which is the scientific term for nearsightedness. The reasons for that are complex. Some of them have to do with genetics and genetic susceptibility, but a lot of it has to do with staying indoors not leaving the house and using devices both for school and for recreation, like video games in Minecraft, but also for social time. It’s very, very important for children to have social interaction with their their peers. And right now for many children that’s not really possible. And so so using social media and playing games that are social, it is important for their well being. However, taken to excess, it can cause vision problems as well. So that’s why we are talking about. All right, So what can you do, number one have the right set up. In the very beginning, parents were scrambling to have any sort of device they could so that children could have access to school, whether it was a laptop or an iPad or whatever. But in general when they’re working at a computer for any length of time, whether it’s for e learning at home or whether it’s for homework at home or whether it’s just for other use.
00:07:11: Here are some tips that can help you set up the children’s workstation better. So as far as screens go, screens are so much better than they were back when I was a kid. Their larger they’re flatter the lighting is better. It’s just better in general in general, the bigger the screen the better. So if you have or can afford a larger screen it’s easier for the eyes and for children, and if you have a larger screen, it allows you to select slightly larger magnification to make it easier to see small print. You want to position the screen so it’s mostly straight ahead, so they don’t have to position their head in a weird way to be able to see it. Chairs should be straight with back support. If they can’t touch the ground, they should have a foot rest. You want to have some sort of natural lighting ideally near a window and it’s nice to have a water cup so they can stay hydrated and try to keep it visually organized. So it doesn’t get to distract posture is one of those things that’s very, very important, but also very, very difficult to get kids to maintain. But as a general rule, the back should provide support. The feet should rest on the foot rest. Like I said, the chair shouldn’t swivel or wiggle and they get to like fidgety and they shouldn’t have to put their body in any particular odd position. And the risks should be neutral, not like flexed up and down.
00:08:37: So here’s a question that I get every day, “Do children need computer glasses?” And it’s not surprising that the answer is complicated. So there are lots of different reasons why we prescribe glasses for children. Sometimes they just can’t see very clearly without their glasses. They might have nearsightedness that might have far sightedness, they might have astigmatism and so what we do is prescribe glasses to help them see clearly. And most people kind of understand that. However, there’s a whole lot of other reasons why we might prescribe glasses. They might have binocular vision problems, meaning the eyes don’t work well together or they might have focusing problems that their eyes don’t accurately look at the screen. The auto focus system of their eyes, just like the auto focus system on your phone’s camera might not be working very well. And so doctors like me or Dr. Beth or others might prescribe glasses specifically to help with the focusing problem to make the focusing more accurate and that can reduce symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Also children may be able to focus visually on the screen perfectly fine for a while But after 10 or 15 minutes they start to get fatigued and sort of lose interest. And so the glasses can help sustain their visual attention if they have problems.
00:10:05: Sometimes the glasses need to be very special type of glasses with either something that’s called prism or some other types of adaptations so that the glasses help them to see the computer as best they can. Now this is complicated because there are sometimes where we prescribe glasses for the computer that helps, but it actually makes distance vision blurrier. Adults are pretty good about, okay, I’m gonna sit down, I’m gonna work, I’m gonna put my glasses on and now I’m going to get up and I’m gonna walk around and take them off. Kids aren’t so good at that. And so so it becomes a little bit complicated and so definitely take the advice from your doctor, your child’s doctor about how glasses should be worn.
00:10:50: Now, another question that I get asked every single day is “What about blue light?” In the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 there was a huge surge in interest in blue light protection. And lots and lots of people were buying them on Amazon and they were kind of wearing them full time. And so I get I get this question a whole lot. And the truest answer about blue light protection is we don’t fully know or understand. So it’s hard to give people guidance because it’s a newer topic. So here’s the theory, devices emit light and some of that light can be harmful. Now we know that ultraviolet light from the sun is harmful and that’s why our glasses and sunglasses have ultraviolet protection. But there’s newer concern that the blue light from screens may be harmful. And this came out originally there was some, there was some scientific research where scientists in a lab bombarded some Petri dishes with different cells and noticed that if they used high intensity blue light, that those cells were damaged more quickly. And then that sort of sparked this whole concern like, oh my gosh, maybe all of this device use screens and computers were making us all go blind. Well after that was examined more closely, we realized that we get way more light from the sun and other sources than we do from screen. So there’s really no concern about screen use causing people to go blind and therefore no reason to use blue light protection. However, there are some reasons why people might benefit from blue light protection.
00:12:39: One, there’s absolutely research that shows that circadian rhythm, which is what helps us get to sleep at night, can be altered if you don’t get enough blue light or if you get too much. And so that can be helpful. Blue light protection, especially towards the end of the day, can help people sleep better. There is some evidence or some reason to believe that blue light does cause eye strain. So that does help people feel a little bit more comfortable. But it’s very specific. I don’t think every single person needs blue light protection or blue light protection glasses, but some people really do benefit from it. So that’s something that you can talk with your doctor about.
00:13:16: Now. We’re at one of my favorite topics and that is visual hygiene. It sounds like you’re washing your eyes, but it’s not what it means is Taking breaks, making sure that your eyes can function normally. Now there’s two different ways to approach this for a long, long time. There’s been something called the 2020-20 rule And what that means is every 20 minutes look 20 ft away for 20 seconds. This lets the focus of the eyes relax. This is more to keep your eyes feeling good by taking the focus away from up close and looking at least 20 ft away. Even better if you can look out a window or even further that just sort of keeps your eyes kind of working. However, there’s a new rule based on some scientific research that says it takes a full five minutes for the eyes to fully, fully, fully relax after spending time at the computer.
00:16:42: As technology advances and as the curriculum in school becomes even more technology based, whether it’s iPads or whether it’s computers, all of these issues are going to stay with us for a long time. And so it’s helpful if we are able to make sure that our children have good habits so they can meet their needs. So as the work gets more visually demanding in school, they are able to adapt and succeed. Sometimes more than just ergonomics and glasses are necessary. Sometimes we have to do vision therapy to help children with problems that they either have or that they’ve developed. Sometimes we make referrals to occupational therapists or other sorts of doctors, so just continue to keep in mind that this is not an issue that’s going to go away. So I hope any of that was helpful. I’m very excited about some of the upcoming episodes that we’ve got and I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks!
Closing: Brought to you by Bright Eyes family vision care and Bright Eyes Kids. Find previous episodes and more detailed information at BrightEyesTampa.com. Creative Commons copyright attribution noncommercial use. The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. There’s no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute a medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis treatment.
Some of the most notable images in the office are the Success Trees. These are handprints from the graduates of the Vision Therapy program. Patients are so proud to add their hands to the trees when they complete the program. And they should be! They’ve worked hard.
We want to do something similar for all of our hundreds of Myopia Control Patients. What we envision is a wall with pictures of children and adults who are successfully using ortho-k, atropine, or daily contact lenses. The goal is to both recognize you or your child, but also so other families can see that there is something that something CAN BE DONE about children’s vision and glasses free-vision.
Here are two ways you can help:
1) Help us decide what to call it?
Wall of Fame?
Bright Eyes Myopia Spectacle! ( get it? )
2) Submit a picture of you or your child! They can be doing anything, but it is more fun if they are doing something that they love. We’ll frame it and post on the wall with all the others.
With your picture, let us know:
if we can use their first name, a nickname, or “A happy Bright Eyes patient” for a caption.
A quote about what they like about their myopia/orthok treatment.
if we have permission to share on social media as well.
I am very excited about this project. Let me know your questions or concerns!
-Dr. Nate and the Bright Eyes Team
Dr. Nate and Cristina’s kids are both myopia control patients!
Dr. Nate, Dr. Beth, and Cristina are proud to announce that Bright Eyes Family Vision Care has been honored with the 2021 CooperVision Best Practices donation! In the photo above, you can see the Bright Eye staff showing off the new plaque. This award is very meaningful because it shows how strong our passion is for our patients and their care. Every year CooperVision’s Best Practices program highlights optometric practices in the U.S. that advance the profession through innovation, industry leadership, and exceptional patient experience.
“Every year, we seek eye care practices who have tackled the profession’s challenges head on. But when we launched the Best Practices program, we never could have imagined a year like 2020 and the impact it would have on optometry. We weren’t sure what we would see in this year’s applications,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Vice President of Professional and Government Affairs, North America, CooperVision. “The stories we received were remarkable. It has been a true testament to the strength and resiliency of eye care professionals—that they have not only made it through the hardships associated with the pandemic, but that they have embraced them to make their practices stronger than ever. And they’re ready to share their secrets to success for the benefit of others. I’m so proud to partner with these new honorees.”
This is a great way for us to start 2021 off strong! We are ready for bigger and better things in the future!
Are your eyes red and itchy right now just in the last few weeks? It might be due to all the pollen in air. It might be allergies!
What are ocular allergies?
When our eyes are exposed to substances like pollen, animal dander or mold spores, they can become red, itchy and watery. These are symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, which is an eye inflammation caused by allergic reaction.
Some people experience acute allergic conjunctivitis, which is a short-term inflammation that is more common during allergy season. The eyelids suddenly swell, itch and burn.
Less commonly, some people experience chronic allergic conjuncitvitis, which is a long-term allergic reaction that can be present year-round. The response is typically milder, with symptoms that come and go, including burning, itching and light sensitivity.
Minimize your exposure to allergens
Close the windows and limit outdoor time when the pollen count is high.
Wear a hat and/or sunglasses outdoors to limit exposure to airborne pollen.
Keep your home dust-free.
Use an indoor air purifier.
Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, dyes and perfumes.
Take shower at night to rinse away pollen from hair and skin before sleep.
Wash pillow cases frequently, as pollen from your hair and body can collect on this surface near your eyes.
Use a cold compress
A cool moist washcloth can be placed over the eyes several times a day to relieve swelling and symptoms.
Keep your eyes hydrated
Dry eyes magnify the symptoms of ocular allergies because the eyelids cause friction with the front surfaces of the eye.
Ocular Allergy Medications
Your primary care doctor may recommend an oral or over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce or block histamine release or anti-inflammatory eye drops.
Avoid Visine: It contains an ingredient (Naphazoline) that can cause a rebound effect and the eyes look more red in the long-term, so avoid these products.
Ocular Antihistamines: These medicines reduce symptoms by chemically blocking the allergic reaction. Alaway, Zaditor and Pataday are over-the-counter medications that can be used daily for ocular allergies. Prescription ocular antihistamines are also available.
Ocular Anti-inflammatories: When other treatments are inadequate, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to relieve symptoms. These medications must be used under supervision of your doctor because they can cause elevated pressure inside the eye, which can lead to vision damage.
Can I still wear my contact lenses?
Allergens collect on the surfaces of the contact lenses, which can lead to decreased comfort. If you experience redness, burning or watering, immediately remove your contact lenses and clean them. If symptoms continue, remove the contacts and call the office.
If your contact lenses are uncomfortable, you and your doctor may discuss other options such as:
Wearing glasses during high pollen count or allergy season.
Switching to a hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleaning system (ClearCare or AquaClear) to deeply clean the proteins and deposits off the contacts.
Switching to a daily disposable contact lens, minimizing buildup of allergens on the lens and reducing symptoms.
If you have any questions or concerns, call our office at 813-792-0637.
I am excited to share that I am now a full-fledged Fellow of The International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (IAOMC), a non-profit organization of practitioners and academics devoted to the science and education of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control. Since I have offered myopia management options for over a decade, becoming a Fellow has long been a goal of mine.
Ortho-K (short for Orthokeratology) is a non-surgical procedure using specially designed contact lenses to gently reshape the curvature of the eye to improve vision.
Myopia is a progressive visual disorder that results in poor distance vision. If the myopia is severe, it will impair near vision as well. Myopia is also known as “near-sighted” or “Short-sighted”.” Options exist to help limit the progression of myopia as a child grows.
According to the Academy, these are qualities of a Fellow:
Fellows have undergone advanced training and rigorous testing to demonstrate their level of expertise in myopia control and orthokeratology
A Fellow is the gold standard and represents the highest level of knowledge, ethics and patient care in the myopia control.
Fellows serve as mentors and role models for other practitioners as well as the general public.
This was a year-long process which included presenting multiple complex case reports, passing both written and oral exams. The exams were supposed to take place at the annual meeting in Seattle in April, but the meeting was canceled due to COVID -19 and the testing process had to be completed remotely.
There are approximately 150 Fellows of the The International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control around the world. And I am one of only a handful that have earned 3 fellowships in the International Academy of Orthokeratology, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, and the American Academy of Optometry.
I have learned a great deal in the process of becoming a fellow and I look forward to using this knowledge to better help my patients.
TL;DR: If your child is e-learning, be proactive to help prevent vision problems. If your child appears to be having screen-related eye fatigue, see your optometrist first and discuss it – your child may have underlying problems made worse by excessive screen time.
There is one topic that comes up over and over in the exam room right now and that is school. Let’s face it, school is challenging this year for everyone – students, parents, teachers, administrators, and everyone who knows any of these people. Every child’s case is unique and they need to do what is best for them. I get a lot of questions about vision specifically from parents whose children are e-learning.
I know this well, because not only do I help my patients every day, I have two e-learners of my own: Nora, an 8th grader, and Javier, a 5th grader. As a family, we are experiencing this right now!
E-learning can be the most visually stressful type of education because it is a set schedule of screen use for a large portion of the day, every day. In a classroom setting, there is a lot moving around and looking up at the board and at friends to provide visual novelty. In a Virtual School and homeschool setting, the schedule can be much more flexible to allow for visual breaks. Teachers are working as hard as they can right now, but they are not children’s vision experts.
Based on my knowledge of children’s vision and the research I have done, I list some helpful guidelines below to ensure that your children can get the most out of E-learning this fall, without as much eyestrain.
Why is this important?
For many years, Optometrists have helped office workers who suffered from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a collection of eye and vision problems related to excessive computer use. It was originally thought that CVS was an adult problem, but now research has shown that children can (and do!) experience this problem, too. This can be compounded by the increased screen time and the general stress of e-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Common symptoms from long-term computer use are:
Neck and shoulder pain
It is not hard to imagine how any or all of these can make learning difficult for a child who has to be in front of a computer or laptop most of the week.
What can you do?
1. Have The Right Set up
My personal preference for my children is that their workstations are in public areas of the house, like the living room and dining room. This has several advantages. One is that we can easily check on them and help them if needed. Another is that it is a psychological distinction of their “work area” from their “personal area.” Also, it is just nice to see our kids during the day. 🙂
Selecting a screen – Bigger is better! The larger the screen, the easier it is to focus on details.
Screen settings – Often selecting 110% or 125% magnification helps. Also, white print on black background can be more comfortable.
Position the screen – Position the center of screen straight ahead so head doesn’t need to tilt back or to side. Position screen further back on the desk. Allow for at least Elbow Distance from the eyes to screen.
Chairs – should be firm with back support.
Foot rest – If the child’s feet can’t touch the ground, a foot rest can stabilize them.
Lighting – You don’t want it to be too dark or too bright. Being near a window is great for natural light, as long as the direct sun is not shining in the child’s eyes or directly on the screen.
Water – Designate a place for a water bottle or cup so kids stay hydrated.
Clutter – Keeping the environment clear of visual distraction can help your child focused on class content.
We all know that it can be difficult to get kids to maintain any particular position, specifically if they are little. However, showing them the proper posture and reminding them often can go a long way to helping them stay comfortable during work.
Here are recommendations for efficient posture for kids at the computer.
Their back should be against the chair for support.
The chair seat should not compress behind the knees and cut off circulation.
Their feet should rest firmly on a floor or footrest (no dangling)
The head should be balanced on neck (not tilted back or too far forwards)
The upper arms close to body and relaxed
The elbow should angle >90° (forearm below horizontal)
Here is an illustration from the American Optometric Association:
3. Do Children Need Computer Glasses?
For adults like me who have “joined the club”, we need glasses to see small print up close. Children, however, have more visual focusing ability so they don’t usually complain of not being able to see the screen. However, many children do have functional issues and benefit from wearing glasses at the computer.
Some of these conditions are:
Refractive problems – Conditions such as farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism can make it more difficult to see the screen. Even a low prescription can cause a child to have headaches if they are not wearing eyeglasses.
Focusing problems – If children’s eyes do not focus accurately on the screen, glasses can help make it easier. Having glasses can make the difference between working comfortably and headaches and blurry vision.
Rapid Fatigue – Some children can see the screen clearly for the first 15 or 20 minutes then start to lose interest because they can’t sustain focus on it.
Convergence problems – Some children have issues where their eyes either tend to over-converge (tend to turn in) or under-converge (don’t turn in enough). In both instances having the right glasses helps keep the image of the screen clear and single and makes reading easier.
Specialized prescriptions – Some children have unique vision problems and require alternate prescriptions such as prism or bifocals, these should definitely be taken into account.
4. What About Blue Light?!?
Blue light is a very popular topic in 2020. As I tell patients, it really is the Wild West right now when it comes to blue light protection and companies can say just about anything to sell their lenses. We need more scientific study in this area about which frequencies of light matter, how much filtering is needed, and what are the effects. But after following the research for years, I can say these things:
There is very little reason to think that light from computers and devices is going to cause permanent eye disease. (UV light from the sun is a much, much greater concern and that is why we recommend UV-blocking sunglasses for all ages.)
Blue light can interfere with circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. There absolutely is evidence that blue light exposure especially at night will affect sleep . The best bet is no screen use a couple of hours before bedtime. But if that is not possible, then blue light protection in glasses, as well as night-mode device settings, can help.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that patients have less eyestrain and fatigue by limiting the scatter of blue light. The only people who seems to dislike blue light filters are people who need to see colors extremely precisely, such as a digital designer.
In short, I do not believe that every single person requires blue light blocking glasses. I think it can help some people feel more comfortable. If your child appears to be having screen-related fatigue see your optometrist first and discuss it – there may be other visual problems that should be addressed first.
For many patients (including children) a low prescription to reduce fatigue, as well as blue light filter and anti-glare treatment, can be the best combination for reducing eyestrain in front of the computer. Buying a blue light filter is only one part of reducing visual eyestrain. At Bright Eyes and most optometry offices, we can custom make the best glasses for your child!
5. Taking Breaks.
If using digital devices is the problem, then stopping using them is part of the solution. Optometrists refer to proper working distance and taking breaks as “visual hygiene” – like dental hygiene but for your visual comfort. Keep in mind, looking away from the computer only to check messages on a phone doesn’t really count as a visual break! The important thing to remember is that breaking up long sessions into shorter sessions helps a lot to release tension in the eyes. There are some suggestions that are helpful.
Before classes start – Do a few deep blinks and eye stretches (we often call these Eye Yoga)
20/20/20 Rule – Every twenty minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds This lets the focus of the eyes relax.
1/5 Rule – Every hour take at least a 5 minute break and move around. This wakes these eyes, body, and brain up, especially if they go outside (see #6).
I know that you do not have perfect control of your children’s schedule, but by setting reminders you can try to develop these habits. (See Dr. Beth’s video below.)
6. Getting Outdoors!
What is even better than looking out a window? Actually getting outside and moving around. Children’s brains (and mood!) function better with some good old physical activity. When I am at home with my e-learning kids, I make a point of scheduling a time for us all to go for a run together, but this is not always possible (darn rain!). Even if they can’t exercise, just being outdoors is great for them. The change of scenery will help break up the routine.
Even if it just a short walk of the dog, or just standing in the yard or back porch, there are big visual benefits. First, the eyes get to fully relax when they look very far away. Instead of the space of just 5 or 10 feet in the room, outside we can 100 or 1000 feet away. Second, the natural light contains the full spectrum of light frequencies. Also, we tend to blink a lot more when we are outside moving around than we are just looking at a screen “in the zone” of e-learning. This keeps the eyes moist and comfortable. And there is a lot of research that shows that taking young children outside is one of the best ways to reduce the chances of them becoming myopic (nearsighted).
Of course, if you are outside in sun, wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV light!
7. When To Check With Your Children’s Eye Doctor.
Extensive computer use more difficult for all patients, but some children are at greater risk. Here are some situations when you should schedule an eye and vision evaluation for your child who is e-learning:
Pre-existing visual problems – If your child has on-going visual dysfunction, definitely have an evaluation and discuss all the options to limit the visual stress of e-learning.
Symptoms – Any symptoms of fatigue or eyestrain should be evaluated.
Overdue – Many patients are overdue for visits due to offices being closed in the spring. Children’s vision can change extremely rapidly, so we recommend annual exams for children in school. This is especially true if they are e-learning.
I want to highlight one specific symptom – blurry vision when looking far away. This can happen for several reasons but there are 2 important reasons to consider:
Eyestrain up-close is causing a focusing spasm (a red flag)
Both of these are on the rise around the world generally due to increased screen time and decreased outdoor time. Both of them have management options that can reduce future problems, including good habits, glasses, and vision therapy. Make sure you discuss this with your child’s eye doctor at their appointment.
And that’s it. I know it was kind of long, but it is important. As different as it is from classroom education, e-learning can be be very effective. And it certainly is beneficial in social distancing and keeping everyone safer from COVID-19. With the information above you can help make sure that e-learning does not cause vision problems as well.
Good luck this year! We are cheering for you. If we can help in any way, please reach out at brighteyestampa.com or (813) 792-0637.
Because the Binocular Vision Evaluation is somewhat different that a standard eye exam, we have created a document to help you understand the different parts of the test, what they look like, and what we hope to learn from them.
You can download the document here to review ahead of time or during the evaluation. We have found that this helps parents understand much more about the testing that their child is experiencing.