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Why Does Outdoor Time Delay Or Prevent Myopia?

outdoor children 640Now that myopia (nearsightedness) is reaching epidemic proportions across the globe, it’s all the more important for parents to understand how myopia can impact their child’s future, and learn which actions they should take to protect their child’s eye health in the long run.

You see, myopia isn’t simply an inconvenience. Childhood myopia raises the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy later in life.

Myopia develops as the eye elongates more than it should, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This manifests as blurred distance vision and clear near vision.

While myopia is caused by a combination of circumstances, including genetic and environmental, a key factor comes down to the amount of time a child spends outdoors in the sunlight.

How Does Outdoor Play Affect Myopia?

Although researchers haven’t yet pinpointed exactly why “sun time” prevents or delays myopia, almost all agree that it plays a large role.

One possible reason is correlated to the brightness of the sun. Some experts have found that the intensity of the sun’s rays triggers a dopamine release in the retina which is thought to slow down the elongation of the eye.

Another theory holds that outdoor time encourages a child to shift their gaze from near objects to faraway ones. Excessive near work, like staring at a digital screen, is believed to be a driving force behind the stark increase in myopic individuals today.

Sending a child outdoors to play gives their eyes a break from focusing on their tablets, smartphones, homework, gaming and other near work.

Additionally, spending more time in the sunshine means more Vitamin-D production. Small-scale studies have found nearsighted people have lower levels of Vitamin D than those with normal eyesight. However, more research is needed to confirm this theory.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Childhood myopia increases the risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. Parents should be proactive about their child’s eye health and do what they can to prevent myopia from developing or progressing at a rapid rate.

Even if your child doesn’t have myopia, encouraging them to play outdoors for several hours a day has been found to prevent the onset of myopia in certain instances.

So go ahead and give your child a water bottle, sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses—and send them out to play! Children aged 6 and up should spend about 2 hours daily outside in the sunshine.

But sun time alone isn’t enough to ensure the best possible outcome for their eye health. A myopia management program can help give your child the best odds of healthy vision for a lifetime.

To learn more about the myopia treatments we offer and schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call Family Eyecare Center today!


Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Riggs

Q: #1: What is myopia management?

  • A: Myopia management is the science-based method used to slow or halt the progression of myopia. There are several options available, and your optometrist will sit down with you and your child to discuss which treatment option is most suitable for your child’s needs.

Q: #2: Who can benefit from myopia management?

  • A: Myopia management treatments have been approved for children as young as 8 and can be used until early adulthood. Myopia management is great for children with low myopia but can also be effective for slowing myopia progression in kids and teens with moderate to high myopia. Contact us to find out whether your child is a candidate for myopia management.

Family Eyecare Center serves patients from Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista North Coastal and San Diego County, all throughout California.

 

Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 760-942-3937

Can Drinking Coffee Relieve Dry Eyes?

Can Drinking Coffee Relieve Dry Eyes 640Many of us enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning to keep our eyes awake and mind alert. But what else can caffeine do for our eyes?

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES), characterized by dry, itchy and red eyes, you may have been advised by a friend or doctor to steer clear of caffeinated coffee due to its diuretic effect. Caffeinated beverages increase the frequency of urination, which leads to water loss. Yet some research suggests that a cup of caffeinated joe might actually promote tear production.

Below, we’ll explore scientific research that studies the relationship between caffeine consumption and tear film.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, stinging, red, itchy eyes. It can be caused by several factors: poor tear quality, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants and excessive digital screen time. Left untreated, DES can lead to corneal damage and scarring and even permanent vision loss in severe cases.
    Certain foods and beverages have been shown to improve the symptoms of DES, like fish high in omega 3s, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and…possibly coffee.

How Does Caffeine Consumption Impact Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Caffeine contains a chemical called xanthine, which has been shown to stimulate tear production when applied topically to the eye. As yet, there is insufficient published research to confirm that ingesting xanthine provides the same tear-producing effect, though preliminary studies seem to suggest that it does.

 

A study published in Optometry and Vision Science found that drinking caffeinated beverages significantly increased tear production after 45-90 minutes. Interestingly, age, gender and body mass had no bearing on the outcome.

Another study, published in Ophthalmology, found similar results. Researchers measured the participants’ tear film twice: once after consuming caffeine and once after drinking a placebo. Their tear film was thickest after consuming caffeine, especially in those with a specific genetic makeup.

While both of these studies showed promising results, they didn’t include enough participants to accurately project the findings onto the general population.

If You Have Dry Eye Syndrome, We Can Help

Finding relief from dry eye syndrome relies on understanding the root cause of your symptoms. Only your eye doctor can diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment for you, whether in the form of medicated or lubricating eye drops, in-clinic treatments, personalized eye hygiene products like eyelid cleansing wipes, nutritional supplements and more.

For long-lasting relief from dry eye syndrome, schedule your dry eye consultation with Family Eyecare Center today.

Family Eyecare Center serves patients from Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista North Coastal, and San Diego County, all throughout California.

References:

Request A Dry Eye Appointment Today
You Have Dry Eye? Call 760-942-3937

Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

sleepy mornings 640Waking up in the morning is hard enough, but waking up with stinging, burning eyes is even worse! If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, this miserable morning sensation may be caused by dry eye syndrome. Your tear glands may be clogged or producing insufficient tears and oils to retain moisture.

Why do some people experience worse dry eye symptoms in the mornings? Here are some reasons:

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close one’s eyelids completely during sleep.

Since the surface of your eye is exposed at night, it becomes dry. If left untreated, the condition can damage your cornea.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyes caused by bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria are active at night, causing dry eye-related symptoms of redness, soreness and irritation upon waking.

Environment

A gritty sensation in your eyes can also be caused by the environment. For example, sleeping directly in front of or under an air vent, heating units, or ceiling fans can dry out your eyes. In addition, sensitivity to allergens like dust that accumulate in the bedroom can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.

Medications

Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medication can dehydrate the eyes:

  • Antihistamines and Decongestants
  • Antipsychotic Medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Hypertension Drugs
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Pain Relievers
  • Skin Medications
  • Chemotherapy Medications

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once you discontinue the medication. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.

Age

Many people develop a sense of grittiness in their eyes as they age. Tear production tends to decrease and becomes less efficient as we grow older. Women who are menopausal tend to experience dry eyes.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops and ointment applied right before bed. To ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment, consider using a humidifier. In severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.

If you are tired of waking up to red, burning eyes, visit your eye doctor for long-lasting relief. Contact Family Eyecare Center to determine the cause of your morning dry eye and come up with an effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Riggs

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Dry eye can occur if the glands in your eyelids don’t produce enough oil to keep your tears from evaporating, or if you don’t produce enough water for healthy tears. No matter what is causing your dry eye, it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated to protect your vision and ensure good eye health.

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: Dry eye is a chronic condition, therefore, there is no cure for it. However, there are treatment methods, such as eye drops, that can help you manage this condition for long-term relief.


 

Family Eyecare Center serves patients from Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista North Coastal and San Diego County, all throughout California.

 


Request A Dry Eye Appointment Today
You Have Dry Eye? Call 760-942-3937

Why Computer Use Can Cause Dry Eye & Eye Strain

Long Term Computer Use 640Nearly 60% of the Western world use some kind of digital device — a phone, computer, tablet, TV — for at least 5 hours a day. All that screen time can result in eye irritation and dryness. In fact, dry eyes and eye strain have become so common that researchers have coined a name for it: computer vision syndrome (CVS).

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition commonly experienced after staring at a computer screen, at arm’s length or closer, for an extended period of time. It is characterized by eye strain and dry eyes.

Because more people work and study at home as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children exhibiting these symptoms.

The symptoms of CVS include:

  • Red, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • The feeling of having something in your eyes

Computer vision syndrome symptoms are similar to those found among dry eye syndrome sufferers, a condition that also tends to develop as a result of extended computer use when blinking is reduced. Blinking is critical for good eye health as it rejuvenates the tear film on your eyes, ensuring constant hydration and protecting them from damage.

5 Tips to Prevent CVS

Luckily, computer vision syndrome can be effectively managed with a few simple adjustments to your screen time.

  1. Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at your screen for too long. Take a break from your computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  2. Adjust your angle. Make sure your screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and that the center of the screen is 4-5 inches lower than eye level.
  3. Use a cool-air humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents your eyes from drying out.
  4. Reduce glare. Your eyes work harder to read when there is glare reflecting off your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from windows and lighting. You can also add a glare filter for eye comfort.
  5. Get computer glasses. Computer glasses allow your eyes to focus on a computer screen with less effort and the blue-light filter may also reduce exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.

By taking regular breaks from your screen, you give your eyes and body a much-needed rest. To learn more about computer vision syndrome and to receive treatment to alleviate dry eye symptoms and eye strain, contact Family Eyecare Center.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Riggs

 

Q: What’s the link between staring at a computer screen and dry eye?

  • A: Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try to blink more, especially while using the computer and reading.

Q: Can blue light glasses help avoid computer vision syndrome and dry eye?

  • A: Spending long periods of time on a computer or device can negatively affect your eyes, potentially leading to computer vision syndrome and dry eye. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, sleep disruptions, and dry eyes. Computer glasses offer blue light protection by reducing the dangerous effects of blue light and the risks of computer vision syndrome.

Family Eyecare Center serves patients from Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista North Coastal, and San Diego County, all throughout California.


Request A Dry Eye Appointment Today
You Have Dry Eye? Call 760-942-3937

Is the Myopia Epidemic Caused by Screen Time?

screen time and myopia 640More than 40% of North Americans have myopia (nearsightedness), most of them since childhood.

Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the eyeball grows too long, and the shape of the eye causes light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on the retina. This causes distant objects to appear blurry.

Children with moderate to severe myopia are at significant risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma later in life.

Is the myopia epidemic even partly due to children spending too much time looking at digital screens? While digital devices keep our children entertained and help them learn via online classrooms, it’s important to understand the ramifications associated with using them.

Is There a Link Between Digital Screens and Myopia?

That’s an excellent question, with no easy answers.

Several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “close work” — reading, writing, and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression.

In Denmark, teenagers who spent more than six hours a day on screens doubled their risk of myopia, while in Ireland, researchers determined that spending more than three hours a day on a screen increased the chances a child would be myopic.

However, some other studies haven’t found a definitive correlation between screen time and myopia.

What is clear is that children who spend a considerable amount of time playing outdoors in the sunshine appear to develop myopia at a slower rate than children who spend almost all their time indoors.

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that the progression of myopia in first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine was slower in the “sunshine” children.

And a study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute found that each hour teenagers spent outdoors doing activities lowered their risk of myopia by 10 percent.

Whether this was due to them looking at far-away objects or to sunlight’s effect on the children’s eyes requires further study.

What is certain: Children, teens and adults who look at screens for an extended period of time often experience blurred vision, headaches, dry eyes and digital eye strain.

Signs of Myopia

Looking at objects too closely

If you notice your child moving closer to the TV, or having trouble seeing the board in their classroom, it can be a sign that they have myopia.

Head tilting or squinting

If your child tilts or squints their head while watching TV, it may be a sign that they are having trouble focusing.

Blurred vision

If your child can’t see clearly in the distance or complains of blurry vision, it may be due to using a digital screen for long periods of time.

Headaches

Untreated myopia can cause serious eye strain, which can cause headaches.

How to Help Prevent Myopia or Slow Its Progression

Many cases of myopia are inherited, but it’s still possible to slow and sometimes halt its progression. Here is what you can do to help prevent your child from developing this eye condition:

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Be sure to follow local health recommendations regarding children and exposure to sunlight, including wearing UV-protected sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends doing close work such as homework, reading and staring at a screen.
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure the screen isn’t close to their face. Encourage your child to take a break at least once every 20 minutes, and to look across the room for at least 20 seconds during each break.
  • Discuss myopia management with your eye doctor to help slow and potentially stop the progression of your child’s myopia.

How We Can Help Treat Myopia

If your child shows signs or symptoms of myopia, schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor as soon as possible to discuss a myopia management plan. Early diagnosis of myopia or other eye conditions can improve your child’s performance in school, on the sports field, and can help prevent serious sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

Contact Family Eyecare Center to schedule an appointment to discuss your child’s myopia management plan.

Q&A

Q: What is Myopia Management?

  • A: Myopia management is a treatment program prescribed by your eye doctor to slow, and sometimes halt, myopia progression.

Q: What is involved in myopia management?

A: Depending on the severity of myopia and age of your child, your eye doctor may prescribe any of the following myopia management techniques:

  • Eyeglasses, such as bifocal or multifocal
  • Multifocal contact lenses
  • Atropine eye drops
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-k) contact lenses



Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 760-942-3937