Can Vitamins Protect Against Blue Light Damage?
February 13th, 2018
As digital devices have taken over our lives, some companies are marketing vitamins with claims that their product can protect the eye against high-energy blue light emitted from electronics. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – want people to know that there is no proven benefit in using “eye vitamin” supplements to protect the eyes from blue light damage, and no conclusive evidence suggesting vitamins improve vision.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) treats vitamin supplements differently than drugs. The FDA does not review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The law does not require the manufacturer or the seller prove that the claim is accurate or truthful before it appears on the product.
While it’s true that staring at a screen for hours at a time does expose you to blue light from your device, there is no evidence it damages your eyes. If you feel discomfort after looking at screens, it’s likely you are experiencing digital eyestrain.
But, there is mounting evidence that blue light does appear to affect the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake and sleep cycle. During the day, blue light wakes us up and stimulates us. But too much blue light exposure late at night from your phone, tablet or computer can make it harder to get to sleep.
Vitamins and Eye Disease
There is one devastating eye disease proven to benefit from vitamin supplements – age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Emily Chew, MD, helped lead a landmark study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). She and her colleagues wanted to see if certain vitamin combinations could help patients with AMD keep their vision. They found that the vitamin formulation they developed can protect against vision loss. But only in some patients. Vitamins can delay progression of advanced AMD and help you keep your vision longer if you have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye. The study showed no benefit in patients with early AMD.
What is in the vitamin formula? Vitamin C, 500 mg; vitamin E, 400 IU; zinc, 80 mg; copper, 2 mg; lutein, 10 mg; and zeaxanthin, 2 mg.
Dr. Chew says that simply eating a well-balanced diet can support eye health. Obesity is linked to increased chances of developing cataract, glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy. But eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce the risk of these eye diseases.
Research also suggests that patients who ate fresh fish, an important source of omega-3s, were at lower risk of developing AMD. However, studies comparing patients who took omega-3 supplements with those who did not, showed no reduction in AMD risk. These outcomes suggest that critical ingredients in food cannot be equally matched in oral supplements.
Before taking a vitamin supplement, consider these points from the FDA:
- Let your health care professional help you distinguish between reliable and questionable information.
- Contact the manufacturer for information about the product you intend to use.
- Some supplement ingredients, including nutrients and plant components, can be toxic. Some ingredients and products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts or taken over a long period of time. Some ingredients used in combination with certain other drugs, substances or foods can also be harmful.
- Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with health care professionals to determine how best to achieve optimal health.
- Do not substitute a dietary supplement for a prescription medicine or therapy, or for the variety of foods important to a healthful diet.
- Do not assume that the term “natural” in relation to a product ensures that the product is wholesome or safe.
- Be wary of hype and headlines. Sound health advice is generally based upon research over time, not a single study.
- Learn to spot false claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Scleral Lenses for keratoconus
February 8th, 2018
This retrospective case series suggests that scleral contact lens correction may significantly reduce the rate of transplant surgery in patients with severe keratoconus.
This retrospective, single-site case series included keratoconus patients with a maximal keratotomy of 70 D or greater. The Microlens rigid scleral lens was fitted by a trained optometrist and ophthalmologist team.
The authors identified 75 eyes for inclusion. Nine had unsuccessful fittings, while 15 eyes did not undergo fitting either because they opted for corneal or hybrid lens wear (3 eyes) or underwent corneal transplantation (12 eyes).
Of the 51 eyes that were successfully fitted for scleral lenses, 7 were lost to follow-up, and 4 could not tolerate the lenses. At a mean of 30 months, all 40 remaining eyes showed better vision with the lenses than with spectacles: The mean BCVA with the scleral lenses was 0.66 decimal fraction, whereas the BCVA with spectacles was 0.13.
The retrospective nature of the study introduces challenges in interpreting the results. Without comparing directly to corneal transplantation, conclusions regarding superiority cannot be made. The authors did not highlight the complications associated with scleral contact lens wear.
The authors demonstrate the successful use of scleral contact lenses in an advanced keratoconus population. They make a valid argument that a scleral contact lens trial may help to validate these findings. Even in seemingly advanced disease, a scleral contact lens can still achieve success and avoid potential complications associated with surgical interventions such as graft-related risks.
Most Americans Unaware of One of the Leading Causes of Blindness Among Seniors
February 5th, 2018
Age-Related Macular Degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among seniors, affecting approximately 2.1 million people nationwide. By 2050, it is expected that the number will more than double to 5.4 million. People may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk of vision loss by neglecting to have sight-saving eye exams. Throughout February, Royo Eye and Laser Center joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing AMD awareness and encouraging those who are most at risk to ensure the health of their eyes by getting an eye exam from an ophthalmologist – a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.
AMD is a degenerative disease that damages the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that focuses images and relays information to the brain. Over time, retinal damage can lead to permanent loss of central vision, limiting the ability to drive, read and recognize faces.
There are two forms AMD – wet and dry. While the dry form of AMD leads to gradual vision loss, the wet form progresses at a faster rate and is responsible for 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness. Recent advancements in treatment options have significantly decreased the incidence of blindness. However, it is critical to get diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible to protect vision.
The Academy recommends the following steps to help potentially avoid AMD and other eye diseases:
- Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams. AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an ophthalmologist is critical to diagnosing and treating the eye disease in its early stages. The Academy recommends that people over age 65 get an exam every one to two years, even if they have no symptoms of eye problems.
- Quit smoking. Numerous studies have shown smoking to increase the risk of developing AMD and the speed at which it progresses. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
- Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. Before you go in for your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. Sharing this information with your ophthalmologist may prompt him or her to recommend more frequent eye exams. The earlier AMD is caught, the better chances you may have of saving your vision.
- Eat a diet rich in omega-3s and low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Several studies have shown that people who had a reduced risk of AMD had diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish. In one study of patients who were at moderate risk for AMD progression, those who reported the highest omega-3 intake (not in the form of a supplement) were 30 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD after 12 years. In another study, an increased risk of AMD was found in individuals who had a higher intake of saturated fats and cholesterol and in those with a higher body mass index.
- Exercise regularly. Many studies have shown that getting regular exercise can benefit your eyes. One study found that exercising three times a week reduced the risk of developing wet AMD over 15 years by 70 percent.
“Most people understand the importance of annual medical examinations,” said Rahul N. Khurana, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “However, we often forget that our eyes also need regular evaluation by a medical doctor. Degenerative diseases, such AMD, can now be successfully treated, but early detection is imperative to avoid lasting consequences.”
EyeCare America® Helps Save Seniors’ Sight
As seniors age, many will develop eye diseases that can become debilitating if not treated in time, such as AMD. The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeCare America® program may be able to help. This year-round program is designed for seniors, age 65 and older, who have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years. Through EyeCare America, seniors may receive a free medical eye examination by ophthalmologists across the country who volunteer their time and services. To see if you or a loved one is eligible, visit eyecareamerica.org.
This program is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc., with additional support provided by Alcon, Genentech, and Regeneron. As one of the largest public service programs in American medicine, EyeCare America was recognized in 2015 by the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which is the premier volunteer awards program in the United States.
For more information on age-related macular degeneration or other eye conditions and diseases, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.
Eye Color: Unique as a Fingerprint
Did you know that no one else in the world has the same eye color as you? While you may share blue eyes with your sibling, how that color appears in your eyes is unique to you.
Human eye color is dependent on multiple genes. Scientists have a good understanding of a couple of these genes, which determine the most common eye colors: brown, blue and green. But they are still exploring how other colors, such as hazel, bluish-gray and other combinations, develop. Contrary to popular belief, your eye colors don’t result as a mix of your parents’ colors. Many genes are at play from each parent, so how you end up with your eye color is a game of chance.
In the past, people thought you could predict the color of a child’s eyes based on their parents’ and grandparents’ eye colors. You calculated the odds of a certain eye color based on the idea that brown eyes are “dominant” and blue eyes are “recessive.” But we are learning that eye color really isn’t that simple to predict. Because passing on genetic traits is very complex, it is possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child, for example.
Your eye color depends on the amount and distribution of a brown pigment called melanin in your iris. Very simply, brown eyes have more pigment than blue eyes. And there are many shades of eye color in between. While you and a family member may share the same color eyes, how much melanin is in your iris and how it is distributed is unique to each person.
Most babies are born with blue eyes that may turn darker during their first three years if melanin develops. If both parents are brown-eyed, it is more likely that their children will have brown eyes too. Darker eye color tends to be dominant, so brown usually wins over green, and green often beats out blue. But this doesn’t mean a child born to one parent with brown eyes and the other with blue eyes will always have brown eyes.
With the holidays right around the corner, here is some information to help make great decisions to keep friends and family safe this season!
Five Tips to Avoid Toy-Related Eye Injuries
With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, Royo Eye and Laser Center joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding the public of certain safety guidelines when choosing the perfect gifts for little ones in their lives. A number of recent studies have shown that some popular toy types are commonly associated with childhood eye injuries. These include air guns and other toys that shoot projectiles, high-powered lasers, and sports equipment.
Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat the eye injuries that sometimes result from these products. The Academy is encouraging parents to follow these tips when gifting toys to children this holiday season.
- Beware of airsoft, BB guns, and other projectile toys. Every year ophthalmologists treat thousands of patients with devastating eye injuries caused by seemingly safe toys. Avoid items with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and other nonpowder gun–related Foreign objects can easily propel into the sensitive tissue of the eye.
- Never allow children to play with high-powered laser pointers. A number of recent reports in the United States and internationally show that children have sustained serious eye injuries by playing with high-powered lasers (between 1500 and 6000 milliwatts). Over the years, these lasers have become increasingly more powerful, with enough potential to cause severe retinal damage, with just seconds of laser exposure to the eye. The FDA advises the public to never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone and to not buy laser pointers for children.
- Read labels for age recommendations before you buy. To select appropriate gifts suited for a child’s age, look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use, and supervision.
- Don’t just give presents. Make sure to be Always make sure an adult is supervising when children are playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
- Know what to do (and what not to). If someone you know experiences an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never to touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye. If an eye injury occurs follow these important care and treatment guidelines.
“When the gift-giving and celebratory spirit of the holidays is in full swing, we can forget how easily kids can get injured when playing with certain toys,” said Jane C. Edmond M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.” We hope people will take steps to shop and play responsibly this year. Following these tips can help make sure our little loved ones have healthy vision for many holiday seasons to come.”
Why Get an Eye Exam? To Spot the Signs You Can’t See
Written By: Beatrice Shelton
Oct. 11, 2016
As adults age, many will develop eye diseases that could become debilitating if not treated in time. But people can protect themselves by having eye exams that can spot early and often-hidden signs of eye disease.
Watch this animated video to learn how. Then, share it with your friends and loved ones so they can take steps to care for their vision, too.
If you’re age 65 or older and haven’t seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years, the Academy wants to help get you checked. Learn how you may qualify for a no-cost eye exam through EyeCare America.