In baseball, eye safety often takes a hit
For many kids and adults, the return of spring means it’s time to gather up bats, gloves and helmets and head for the baseball diamond. But too many people forget to include an important piece of gear: protective eyewear.
According to the National Eye Institute, baseball is a leading cause of eye injuries among children 14 years old and younger who play sports in the U.S. In fact, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children, accounting for an estimated 100,000 emergency room and doctor visits each year.
“It’s a sad fact that nine out of 10 kids who have suffered an eye injury could have prevented it just by wearing proper eye protection,” says Kendra DeAngelis, MD, an oculoplastic surgeon in Memphis, Tennessee. “Unfortunately, many youth and adult sports leagues do not require players to wear protective eyewear.”
Even Major League baseball players aren’t required to wear eye protection. Yet, reports of eye injuries in the big leagues show they aren’t immune to the devastating effects of a flying baseball or bat. In just the past two seasons alone, players from the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies have suffered serious eye injuries.
Potential eye injuries from baseball include:
- corneal abrasion;
- orbital fracture;
- hyphema, which can lead to glaucoma;
- ruptured eyeball;
- cataract; and
- detached retina.
“People often think that wearing their regular eyeglassesor sunglasses offers some protection from a baseball hit, but this is false,” says Dr. DeAngelis. “The truth is that non-protective eyewear can shatter upon impact, causing more damage to your eye.”
Before taking the field, take the proper steps to keep your eyes safe:
- If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, ask your eye doctor about prescription protective sports eyewear. There are certified helmets with attached safety glasses for baseball batters and base runners; fielders can get certified protective eyewear.
- Sports safety glasses must meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards. Eyewear designed to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) industrial standards does not meet the safety standards for sports eye protection.
- All prescription sports glasses should be made from polycarbonate material because it resists shattering and provides UV (ultraviolet light) protection. If the protective lenses have turned yellow over time, have them replaced, as the polycarbonate material may have weakened with age.
- Sports goggles provide the best eye protection. However, they may not fit narrow faces well. In this case, the best option is certified sports glasses with 3-millimeter-thick polycarbonate lenses.
- Any player who has vision loss in one eye should always wear eye doctor-recommended protective eyewear to protect their remaining vision.
Eye Pressure Testing
March 22, 2018
Our eyes constantly make a fluid called aqueous humor. As new aqueous flows into your eye, the same amount should drain out through a tiny drainage area. This process keeps pressure in your eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) stable. But if the drain is not working properly, fluid builds up. Pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve. This is often how glaucoma develops.
In the past, you may have had an eye pressure test using a puff of air. Now most ophthalmologists use a more accurate device that measures pressure by direct contact with the eye.
How Is Eye Pressure Measured?
- Eye drops are put in your eyes to numb them.
- Then the doctor or assistant gently touches the front surface of your eye with a device that glows with a blue light. Other times a different handheld instrument is used.
- Both methods apply a small amount of pressure to the eye.
- This allows your ophthalmologist to measure the pressure inside each eye.
- During this test, it is very helpful to relax and breathe normally.
Each person’s eye pressure is different, and there is no single correct pressure for everyone. Generally, the range for normal pressure is between 10 and 21 mmHg (“mmHg” means “millimeters of mercury,” a scale used to record eye pressure).
Most people who have glaucoma will have an eye pressure higher than 21 mmHg. However, some people with pressures between 10 and 21 mmHg may have glaucoma.
Your ophthalmologist will determine the eye pressure range that is healthy specifically for you.
Remedies to Reduce Dry Eye SymptomS
March 12th, 2018
At some point, nearly everyone experiences that gritty, uncomfortable feeling when their eyes become too dry. But for some people, dry eye is more than a temporary annoyance. It is an ongoing problem called ocular surface disease that demands constant management.
Ocular surface disease is a very common disorder. It happens when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears. Tears, which are made from three separate layers, are vital for keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable.
Anyone can have ocular surface disease, though it is more common among women, particularly after menopause.
Dry eye and your environment
Where you live may play a role in developing dry eyes. For example, people who live in major cities with high levels of air pollution may be more likely than those in areas with less air pollution to suffer dry eye symptoms. A study of U.S. military veterans found people in and around Chicago and New York City were three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome compared to people in areas with relatively little air pollution.
The same study also showed that people who live in higher-altitude zip codes, where the air is typically drier, are 13 percent more likely to develop dry eye than people at lower altitudes.
Based on these study findings, eye doctors recommend that dry eye sufferers who live in smoggy cities or very dry climates use specific tactics to help manage and control their symptoms.
Specifically, they suggest:
- using a high-quality air filter at home in major cities or other areas with a lot of air pollution, and
- using a humidifier in the home to add moisture to dry air.
Here are some other ways you can minimize the impact of your environment on your dry eye symptoms:
Protect your eyes in windy areas
If you are often in a windy area, wear a pair of wraparound sunglasses to reduce the chance of wind blowing directly into your eyes and drying them out. Remember that fans and hair dryers can make your eyes dry, so limit your exposure to them.
Avoid cigarette smoke
Are you around cigarette smoke often, or do you smoke? There are already a lot of good reasons not to smoke or be exposed to second-hand smoke, but keep in mind that cigarette smoke can irritate your dry eyes. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing dry eye in the first place. Stay away from smoke.
No matter where you live, the following tips can help you manage your dry eye symptoms:
Rest your eyes often and blink
Working at a computer, reading or watching television can dry your eyes out. This is because you don’t blink as often as you normally do. Take breaks every 10 minutes, give your eyes a rest and try to blink more frequently to help your eyes regain some of the moisture they’ve lost.
Try artificial tears
Artificial tears are available without a prescription. Use them as often as you need to, but if you find yourself using them more than once every two hours, you may want to use tears that are preservative-free. Lubricating gels can also help. Because they are thicker and blur your vision, you should use them at bedtime.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help
Some people find relief from their dry eye symptoms by supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in foods like oily fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies) and flax seeds. Ask your ophthalmologist if you should take supplements of omega-3 fatty acids and, if so, how much and in what form.
Care for your eyelids to help improve tear quality
Putting warm compresses on your eyes can help release oil in your eyelids’ glands, helping to improve the quality of your tears. Also, wash your eyelids carefully with a clean washcloth and soap and warm water, rinsing your eyes thoroughly afterward.
If you are struggling to manage the dry eye symptoms of ocular surface disease, talk with your ophthalmologist to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Eyelash Extension Facts and Safety
March 8th, 2018
People are going to new lengths to make their eyes look special. Eyelash extensions, professionally applied on natural lashes with a semi-permanent glue, are growing in popularity. Ophthalmologists say this cosmetic treatment can be safe, as long as consumers take precautions to protect themselves.
What Are Eyelash Extensions?
There are three types of lash extensions: synthetic, silk and mink. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Lash extensions are usually applied by a technician in a beauty salon, using tweezers and a specially formulated, semi-permanent glue. The procedure can take as long as two hours, and your eyes should remain closed for the duration of the application. The faux lashes typically last three to four weeks, falling off as your natural lashes shed.
Are Lash Extensions and Glue Safe for Eyes?
“To keep the eyes safe, lashes should be applied by an experienced aesthetician in a sanitary setting, with chemicals that are safe for your skin,” says Rebecca J. Taylor, MD, a Nashville ophthalmologist and clinical spokeswoman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The procedure does come with risks, namely: trauma to or infection of the eyelid or cornea; allergic reaction to the glue; and permanent or temporary loss of eyelashes.
Infection can come from inadequate hygiene in the shop or damage to the eye during application. “Remember that a sharp object is being used very close to your eye,” Dr. Taylor says.
Ingredients in the glue can cause allergic reactions. In the past, some of these glues have contained the allergen formaldehyde. An allergic reaction can trigger pain, itching, redness and swelling. It may even temporarily interfere with vision. Eyelash extensions and glue are not currently regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Rubbing, tugging or pulling can fracture your natural lashes, and even cause permanent damage to the eyelash follicle. Although rare, extensions can also lead to fibers getting stuck under the eye tissue, which may require surgical removal.
How to Do Eyelash Extensions the Right Way
Be sure to look carefully at the shop or salon, the aesthetician and the ingredients of the products before going ahead with eyelash extensions. Here are a few things to look for and ask about:
- Does the salon have a good reputation? How long have they been in business, and do they practice good hygiene? Read reviews and look at before-and-after photos from other customers.
- What training, certification, and experience does the aesthetician have in lash extensions?
- Ask for the glue’s ingredient list and check it for allergens. Confirm the expiration date has not passed. Request a spot test on the inside of your wrist before the glue is applied to your eyes.
If you have an allergic reaction to extensions, do not try to remove them yourself, as this could damage your eyes. Do not try to treat the reaction on your own. Doing so incorrectly may make the symptoms last much longer. Instead, go see an ophthalmologist immediately.
Ophthalmologists Say 90 Percent of Work-Related Eye Injuries Can be Avoided by Wearing Eye Protection
March 1st, 2018
On-the-job safety goes well beyond avoiding slips, falls, and heavy lifting. Caring for your eyes should be a high priority and part of an overall workplace wellness routine. Each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. However, 90 percent of these accidents can be avoided by wearing eye protection. As part of an ongoing effort to stress the importance of workplace eye wellness, Royo Eye and Laser Center and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, during the month of March, is encouraging the public to do right by their eyes and wear appropriate eye protection.
Workplace eye injuries cost more than $300 million a year in lost productivity, treatment, and compensation. These injuries range from simple eye strain to trauma, which may lead to permanent damage, vision loss, and blindness. This is particularly true for workers in construction, manufacturing, and mining. Approximately, 40 percent of eye injuries in the workplace happen in these three industries.
If an eye injury does occur, an individual should seek care from an ophthalmologist — a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions — or go to an emergency room for immediate care.
Caring for your eyes on the job should not be limited to those who do physical labor, however. People who spend long hours working on a computer can experience eye discomfort. Focusing on small font type for hours on end can cause eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. Staring at screens for long periods can also leave eyes parched and red, causing eyes to become dry from lack of blinking. This happens frequently as computer screens or other digital displays reduce a person’s blink rate by as much as 50 percent.
The Academy provides tips to help avoid workplace eye injury or strain:
- Wear protective eyewear: Ensure that your eye protection is appropriate for the type of hazard that may be present in your workplace, such flying debris, falling objects, chemicals, intense light, and heat. Your eyewear must be American National Standards Institute ANSI-approved and OSHA compliant. You must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shield or helmet if you are near hazardous radiation welding, chemicals, lasers or fiber optics.
- Position your computer 25 inches away: If you are working on a desktop computer, try placing the monitor at an arm’s length away from your face. You may need to adjust the font size to appear larger at that distance.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Eye strain and dry eye occur after long, continuous periods of viewing digital screens up close. To help alleviate this, take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking at a distance allows your eyes to relax and return to a regular rate of blinking again. Normally, people blink about 14 times a minute and with every blink, your eyes are lubricated with fluid that contains moisturizing elements, including oil.
- Reduce glare on your smartphone and digital screen: While many new phones and digital devices have glass screens with excellent picture quality, they also produce a strong glare that can aggravate the eyes. If you use a glass screen device, adjust the low light filter setting to lower screen brightness or use a matte filter to reduce eye strain.
- Adjust environmental lighting at your work: If your computer screen is brighter than your office surroundings, your eyes need to work harder to see. You can reduce eye strain by adjusting the lighting in your surroundings.
“It takes only a few seconds to protect yourself from eye related issues that can cause vision problems,” said Brenda Pagán-Durán, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “I can’t stress enough the importance of incorporating eye wellness into your daily routine; whether it’s simply adjusting the setting on your computer monitor, or wearing appropriate protection to avoid serious eye injury. This is truly an ounce of prevention that can safeguard your vision.”
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.