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Bright Eyes Kids in Westchase Fl

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Dr. Beth is a New Partner at Bright Eyes!

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Dr. Beth and Dr. Nate with the 2021 Best Practice Award

When Dr. Elizabeth Knighton “Dr. Beth” joined Bright Eyes in 2014, we were thrilled to have her. After all, she had specialty training in children’s vision and is extremely nice. Initially she saw patients two days a week and only at the Bright Eyes Family location in Westchase because the Bright Eyes Kids location in New Tampa was brand new and itself was only open 2 days a week.

Since then Dr. Beth has grown significantly with us. She has worked full-time with us for quite some time, splits her time between Bright Eyes Family and Bright Eyes Kids, and provides primary eye care, vision therapy, and sports vision. Additionally, she has weathered not only the challenges of the large expansion of Bright Eyes Family office, but also the global COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been through the great times, such as when Bright Eyes recently received the CooperVision Best Practices Award (above).

During the seven years that Dr. Beth has worked at Bright Eyes, she has truly embodied our mission to “to empower people by providing the best in friendly, professional, and innovative eye care.” She gives her all for patients, as patients tell us in Google reviews, like the one that says,

“My daughter has special needs and Dr. Beth was so amazing with her! Lots of patience and very kind. Highly recommend!”

So it is for all these reasons that I am incredibly excited to announce that Dr. Beth is no longer an associate doctor, but she is now joining me and Cristina as partner at Bright Eyes! This partnership will allow Dr. Beth more opportunities to improve patient care at Bright Eyes.

We look forward to working with her for a very long time!!

-Dr. Nate and Cristina

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Dr. Beth (second from right) and Dr. Nate (right) after completing the Keys 100 relay race.

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Dr. Beth and friends at the 10 Year Bright Eyes Anniversary.

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Dr. Beth and staff at the opening of Bright Eyes Kids.


Dr. Nate, Dr. Beth, and a patient in Lego form.

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Dr. Beth being interviewed.

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Dr. Beth created a Great American Teach in Video in 2020.

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Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth podcasting.

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Dr. Beth and staff at The Glow Run in 2015

Myopia Awareness Week: May 24 – 28


You may have noticed that children’s vision and myopia have been in the news a lot. The New York Times. CNBC. So many others. 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.

MAW21 Image 7Fortunately, 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.


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Podcast Episode #16: Computer use and Kids

BE PODCAST ARTWelcome 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.

In this episode, Dr. Nate talks about the guide to reduce visual problems for e-learners and children who use desktop computers significantly.

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

Full Transcript:


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.

Dr. Nate

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 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.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Allergy Season is Upon Us!

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?

allergiesWhen 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.

Bright Eyes Doctors Complete COVID-19 Vaccination

At Bright Eyes, we take the health of our staff and patients very seriously. It is for this reason that we have been very cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic. In spring of 2020 we closed for several weeks for all but urgent care. Since reopening, we have taken significant precautions to limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, we have been diligent in establishing quarantine of any staff member or patient that may be at risk.

We are now pleased to announce that both Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Our office manager, Cristina, has received her first dose and will receive the second shortly. We will encourage staff to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.

Since no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing the possibility of contracting or spreading COVID-19, we will continue all precautions as recommended by the CDC and other relevant agencies. This includes the wearing of facemasks and social distancing. But we are happy that more people are becoming vaccinated and we encourage you to talk with your doctor, educate yourself, and if appropriate get the vaccination when it becomes available to you.

Wishing you the best in 2021!

-Dr. Nate

@brighteyestampaGet yours! ##covid19 ##vaccine ##savelives♬ It’s Corona Time – Chumino

Bright Eyes COVID-19 Clinical Update

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Our patients’ health and safety is our number one concern.

We have modified our policy to match the guidance by the CDC based on community levels of COVID spread in Hillsborough County.

  • WHEN COVID LEVEL IS HIGH: We will require masks in the office for all staff members and patients over the age of 2.
  • WHEN COVID LEVEL IS MEDIUM: We will require masks for staff during patient interactions, but masks are optional for patients.
  • COVID LEVEL LOW: We will not require masks for staff or patients – masks are optional. If you would prefer that your doctor and/or optical technicians wear a mask during your visit, please let us know ahead of time and we are happy to comply


When you come to the office please be advised of these procedures:


  • DON’T COME TO THE OFFICE SICK. Please reschedule your visit.


  • FORMS: Please complete intake forms prior to your visit. These will be sent to you via email or text, to reduce paperwork and time in the office.


  • MASKS: All Bright Eyes staff members and patients over the age of 2 must wear masks or face coverings while in the office. This is to protect staff and other patients. If you have concerns about masks, please contact us BEFORE your visit.


  • HAND-WASHING & SANITATION: We ask that all patients and staff wash hands before exams or therapy visits. All equipment will be sanitized between patients. Eyeglasses will be cleaned after each patient.


  • RETINAL IMAGING: Our doctors want all patients, who are physically able, to have retinal imaging every annual exam. This is the best way to evaluate eye health and reduce prolonged close contact. Retinal problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal holes, retinal detachment, and diabetes can be more easily found and documented.


Thanks for your cooperation and continued support! This page will be updated as the COVID condition change.


– Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford, Dr. Beth Knighton, and the Bright Eyes Staff.


What one mom said after her experience at Bright Eyes:

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Order contacts through Bright Eyes NEW Contact Lens Webstore!

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At Bright Eyes, we take the health and safety of our staff and patients very seriously. Nationwide, people are practicing social distancing and enhanced hygiene to avoid the coronavirus.

While we are not usually crowded at Bright Eyes, we are adjusting the flow of patients overall – to continue to offer services, while keeping patient-to-patient contact to a minimum.

Want to order contacts, but don’t want to travel to the office?

Check out Bright Eyes’ new contact lens webstore:

Enter your prescription yourself, or call the office and we will enter your prescription into the system.

We already offer competitive pricing, compared with major online retailers. Through April 30, we are adding special promos on all contact lens orders:

  • Extra 10% off our already competitive pricing (in-office or online)
  • If you buy an annual supply of contacts, you are eligible for an extra 10% off – meaning 20% off your contact lens order! (Please call or email our office to receive this extra discount!)
  • Free shipping for any number of boxes.


Many people don’t realize that Bright Eyes is a family-owned business, not a chain optical! Support your local business while enjoying the convenience of shopping online!

Thank you for your business! If there is anything we can do to help, just let us know.


-Dr. Nate and the Bright Eyes Staff




How to Keep Glasses from Getting Foggy

Whether you live in a cold climate or have visited one in the winter, you have probably seen someone who just walked in from the cold outdoors sporting glasses that are no longer transparent, or perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself.

Why Do Glasses Fog Up?

There are several factors that cause your glasses to fog up — one of which is ambient heat, in other words, the actual temperature in your surrounding environment. Eyelashes that touch the lens can cause fogging, as well as tight-fitting frames that touch the cheeks (many plastic frames cause this problem), which impede proper airflow. Lastly, high humidity and the sweat and moisture that accompany overexertion/ exercise can also trigger foggy lenses.

Ultimately, glasses cloud over due to moisture in the air condensing on the cold surface of your lenses.

Now that you know the most common reasons why your glasses fog up, it’s time to read about some possible solutions. Below are a few tips to help keep your lenses clear year-round.

6 Tips to Steer Clear of Cloudy Specs

1. Invest in Anti-Fog Coating

Anti-fog coating blocks out moisture that would normally stick to your lenses, by creating a surface layer that repels water and mist. An optician applies the treatment to both sides of the lens in order to prevent fogging so you can see clearly in any climate or environment.

Ask us about our proven anti-fog treatment for your glasses and be on your way to clearer vision, all the time.

2. Use Anti-Fog Wipes, Sprays, or Creams

Commercial anti-fog products are an alternative to lens coatings. These products, typically sold in either gel or spray form, are specially designed to prevent condensation and moisture from building up on your lenses. Apply the product as directed on the packaging and remove it with the supplied cloth, wipe or towelette. If a cloth wasn’t included in the box, use a scratch-free cloth.

Aside from the gel or spray, you can use anti-fog wipes. These pre-treated napkins are perfect for those who are on the go.

3. Move Your Glasses Further Away from Your Face

Eyeglasses tend to trap moisture and heat, particularly if they are positioned close to your eyes or face, which increases the buildup of fog on your lenses. Consider adjusting the position of your eyewear by pushing your glasses slightly further down your nose. It will stimulate proper air circulation, thereby reducing fog accumulation.

4. Wear Your Seasonal Accessories Wisely

If the weather cools down, try not to wear too many layers, to prevent overheating and producing sweat, which can make your glasses to fog up more. Wear only the necessary amount of clothing to stay warm. If you’re wearing a scarf, consider one with an open weave or a more breathable material to let the air pass through.

5. Avoid Abrupt Temperature Changes

Allow your eyewear to acclimate to changes in temperature. If you are moving from an environment that is cold into one which is warm and humid, try to let your glasses adjust accordingly.

For instance:

  • As you enter a building, stand in the doorway for a minute or two as the temperature slowly transitions from cool to warm.
  • When in the car, gradually adjust the heat, particularly when your hands aren’t free to simply remove your glasses and wipe off the fog.

Fogged up glasses are not only irritating but can also be dangerous, especially for those who drive, ski, or operate machinery. So make sure to take the necessary precautions, especially as the weather changes.

6. Swap Glasses for Contact Lenses

If contacts are an option for you, you might want to wear them on those cold days, to avoid foggy glasses syndrome (yeah, that’s a made-up term).


Want to keep your glasses from fogging up? Speak with Dr. Knighton. At Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Tampa, we can advise you about a variety of contact lenses, anti-fog treatment and other solutions to help you see clearly— any day.

Podcast Episode #5: Eclipse Safety

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.

In this episode, Dr. Nate talks about importance of eye protection during the total eclipse.

Full Transcript: (Dr. Nate)

  • From partial-eclipse territory in Tampa, Florida it’s the Bright Eyes Podcast. My name is Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford and I’m excited to talk about this important topic. There’s lots of people that are talking about the upcoming eclipse and I think that that’s great because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for lots of people. I don’t know if you remember the eclipse that occurred in 1979. I do remember getting together with people and watching it. This is the first total collapse to cut across continental path over the United States since 1918 and lots of people are going to be watching the eclipse. There’s only a small band from Oregon to South Carolina where about 12,000,000 people live that they’re gonna be able to see the total eclipse. I have friends that are traveling to that narrow area so that they can see it in person. But the reason why I’m doing this episode of the podcast is not so much for the astronomical interest but because of the potential for harm that can happen if you are not prepared.
  • Now, last episode Dr. Beth and I talked about types of damage that can occur both short term and long term from ultraviolet light. Well when we’re talking about the eclipse, when we’re talking about actually looking at the sun, this is ultraviolet light damage on steroids! Now you’ve been told (probably your entire life) “do not look directly at the sun” and that’s true at all times, but it’s especially true during an eclipse when the most interesting thing going on is the sun and its relationship to the moon and the earth. Why that’s such a big deal is because there is something called “solar retinopathy” or sometimes called “eclipse blindness”. What happens is, if you look directly at the sun, the focused light of the sun can cause permanent damage to the back of the eye. However, the back of the eye does not have any pain sensors so you won’t feel any pain or see any symptoms right away. What will happen is later on, later that day or the next day you might notice that you’re having trouble seeing. Just as a quick example if you ever look at a strobe light briefly or if you look at a light bulb that doesn’t have a lamp shade on it, you see what’s called an after-image. And it’s just a little image that you see for a little while and it’s different colors and it slowly fades away. That is the where these photoreceptors of the back of the eye are over-stimulated. It takes awhile for them to get down to regular levels. This is it completely different phenomenon. This (solar retinopathy) is where there’s actual damage to the back of the eye. And so while it’s very exciting, and I do encourage everybody to check it out, I do want everybody to do that safely. So I have 4 items that were published by the American Optometric Association and I’m going to read them and then comment on them just a little bit.
  • Number 1: use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partial solar eclipse is through special purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or viewers that meet international standards ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glasses, unfiltered telescope or magnifiers, polarized filters are unsafe. If you can’t find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.
  • So a couple different things here. First of all, pinhole projectors are pin hole viewers are pretty cool and you can do that anytime you don’t necessarily have to do that during eclipse time. And so I would encourage anybody to check that out and I’ll put a link in the show notes. But mostly people are going to use a solar eclipse viewers and and what I really want to point out about that is 1) do get them. They’re very inexpensive. We’ve got some the for the staff, because it’s happening during our business hours, and you can get the many different places I will put a link (below). But the most important thing is: I’ve read news articles about how there are fake solar viewers and so you should test yours out to make sure that they’re safe. And the easiest way to test them out is put them on and make sure the only thing that you can see through them is essentially the sun. Anything that’s less bright than the sun, like a computer monitor or a flashlight or a light in the house, you should NOT be able to see through it. If you can, then that’s not safe. The other thing is they do sell filters for telescopes and it’s very important that you not use the viewing glasses or the eclipse glasses to look through the telescope because the telescope has concentrated that light so brightly that that’s not anywhere near a sufficient protection.
  • eclipse picNumber 2: Technique of the pros: Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers.. While standing still, glance at the sun and then turn away and remove your filters. Do not remove your filters while looking at the sun.
  • So this accomplishes 2 purposes. First, of all you can’t wear the solar viewing protection full time because you can’t see anything. (And if anybody remembers the peril sensitive sunglasses from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s kinda like that – in scary situations). So you can’t just wear these all the time. But what you want to do is you want to position yourself so you’re not walking around, put them on look at the eclipse look away, and then take them off. That ensures that you’re protecting your eyes from the sun and you’re protecting your body from walking around.
  • Number 3: Totally awesome. Only within the path of totality can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view the eclipse. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.
  • And so this is true. But I still want to provide a note of caution. The eclipse is only going to be in totality for 2 minutes and 40 seconds (at longest) so during that time if you’re in the path of the total eclipse. You can take off your viewers you can look at the eclipse, however I don’t encourage you to do that for very long because very quickly the sun’s going to reappear in you’re going to be at risk again. So I would only encourage you to do that for a short amount of time and then replace your viewers as the sun becomes exposed.
  • And finally: Visit your doctor of optometry if you should experience any discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse visit your doctor of optometry for a comprehensive exam.
  • Now, of course we recommend that people get exams regularly anyways but this is one of those special situations. I have a few other links that I’m going to put in about the eclipse that I think are interesting: the map and some information about the solar viewers. I hope everybody enjoys it has a great time. I’m very much looking forward to it. I know my kids are. But I’ve mostly want everybody to stay safe. If you have any questions let us know at We’ll see you next time!




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The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is 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 medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

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