Trouble Reading the Fine Print - Get a Smart Vision Exam

Trouble Reading the Fine Print?

For many, losing their vision is believed to be an inevitable and accepted fact of growing older. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Turning into Grandpa who reads the paper with his arms stretched out because he can’t see the fine print or Granny who doesn’t like to drive at night anymore is not something that has to happen.

Let’s see how their day might look if they are the kind of people who just treat losing vision quality as a fact of life.

Can’t Read the Label’s Fine Print?

Grandpa wakes up, starts making a few slices of toast and coffee, and goes to take his morning medication as breakfast gets ready. Oops. He forgot to sort out his medicine the night before. He has trouble reading the tiny print on the bottles saying what and how much to take so he needs to solicit Granny’s help to figure it out. He goes to wake her, even though she wanted to sleep in today. Thankfully, Granny is a sweet old lady and helps him out anyway, although she did swipe a piece of toast.

trouble reading the fine print - you might need reading glasses - Smart Vision LabsOr the Fine Print of a Newspaper?

After breakfast, he sits in his armchair and reads the local newspaper. He remembers this being much more comfortable than it currently is. His near vision isn’t great so he holds the paper straight out in front of him, as far as his arms go.

His eyes seem tired as he continues to read. They are itchy and feel like they want to shut. But he just woke up. He can’t be tired already so he rubs them and continues on for a bit. Eventually, he gives in and takes a quick catnap. He has to drive Granny later so it is good to rest now.

do you have trouble driving at night. It might be time for glasses. Get your vision tested. Smart Vision Labs

Or Drive at Night?

Granny goes to a book club at the town library this evening but she doesn’t like to drive in the dark. She says it’s hard to make things out in the dim light and the glare from car headlights just make it worse. Grandpa might not be able to read the fine print on his medicine labels but he is more comfortable driving so he takes her. He is able to finish reading the newspaper as he waits for Granny’s group to finish their discussion.

They Could Be an Easy Fix

Grandpa and Granny’s struggles might seem (and actually are) totally routine issues older people with vision problems deal with on a daily basis. But they don’t have to be.

Grandpa could read his medication bottles and have an easier time reading the newspaper with a simple pair of reading glasses. Since reading is important to him, it might be worth it to get a prescription pair of readers because they will be customized exactly for his eyes.

The tiredness and itchiness he felt in the morning is the result of lack of tears, not sleep. Dry eye is another easily treated condition with prescription or over-the-counter eye drops.

As for Granny, her inability to see well at night is due to several factors. The pupils can’t expand as well, letting in less light which reduces vision. Driving is a complex task, requiring our eyes to focus on many objects at once, both moving and stationary, a task which becomes more difficult with age. The lens and cornea may also be slightly clouded which also reduces incoming light. Depending on the severity of her problem, she may notice a marked improvement with a pair of prescription glasses with anti-reflective coating.

All of their eye problems have an easy remedy – and it can all start with a vision exam.

Your eyes are a part of your body which are very receptive to preventative care. Many conditions which affect quality of vision are easily remedied with prescription eyeglasses. Getting vision tests at regular intervals keeps you alert to any changes in your vision and allows you to act on them as soon as possible.

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Why Vision Is the Most Important Sense - Learn why at Smart Vision Labs

Why Vision Is the Most Important Sense Organ

Out of all the five senses, your vision seems the most important. Humans are fairly unique in their reliance on sight as the dominant sense and this is reflected in how complicated our eyes are relative to other creatures.

Many animals gain most of their information about the environment through their sense of smell. Your dog’s nose tells him much more about his world and who is in it than his eyes (which can actually see some color). In contrast, you can’t smell all the wildlife that visited your yard but you could see them in vivid color.

How the Eye ‘Sees’

Why are human eyes so much more capable? Basically, it is because they have more components which collect information.

When you see something, like your pet dog, your eyes don’t actually see him, your brain does. At the start of what will become your vision, light enters your eyes. Your pupil, the black center of your eye, and the iris, the colored ring around it, work together to widen or constrict the pupils so the appropriate amount of light enters the eye.

The incoming light travels through two layers: the cornea and the lens. The cornea at the front of your eye, and the lens, located right behind your pupil, work in tandem to focus the light ray onto a specific spot at the back of your eye, on the retina.

At the retina is where the raw sight data your eyes collected from light begins to be translated into useful visual information. The light focused on the retina triggers photoreceptors which are used to create visual cues. The retina contains two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. There are about 120 million rods and up to 7 million cones. Rods are more sensitive than cones but cannot detect color, which the cones can.

Humans have 3 types of cones which perceive the presence of red, green, and blue. These combine in different levels to create the full range of color we see. In case you’re wondering, your dog only has 2 of these, yellow and blue, which means his vision is closer to a human with red-green colorblindness than just black and white.

Now that information about the item and its color are collected, the rest of the work is left to the brain. This new data is sent along the optic nerve to the brain, which is what tells us what we are looking at. Along with what we are seeing, the brain sends information about the context: what does looking at this mean, is it dangerous, or other related memories.

Also your eyes and brain are constantly doing all of this. All in a tiny fraction of a second.

The Eye as a Sense Organ

The way sight works is why it is one of the five senses. The eyes are the physical portal through which data from your environment is collected and sent to your brain for processing. The brain plays its part by converting the light that went into your eyes into usable information – how far away, how bright, what color.

So if you were to look at your dog, you would see that, yes, it is a dog but also what breed he is and that he is your pet and would probably like his ears scratched.

Humans are built to collect information with their eyes and even reduced vision quality creates a negative effect. A regular vision test is a small investment for something that has such a huge impact on our lives.

Our eyes aren’t just performing a task, they are the portal through which our brain can tell us about our world, learn new things, and make wonderful memories. All of which are reasons why vision is such an important thing to take care of.

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Bette Davis Eyes

Sometimes we remember people because of their eyes; Bette Davis is one of those people.

Kim Carnes even sang about her famous eyes. (I bet you can hear that song in your head at the moment.) But what’s the deal with these eyes?

Those ‘Bette Davis eyes’ could have been indicative of a medical condition known as Graves’ disease, which is a serious thyroid and immunological disorder. This disorder causes an inflammatory response in the muscles around the eyes which makes them swell. Although the eyes are held in place by the orbits (the sockets in the skull), the swelling of the muscles and surrounding tissues push the eyes forward. In severe cases of Graves’s disease, the eyes are protruding and have limited movement.

The Eyes Tell a Story

Bette Davis’s eyes told a story. Whether it was about her possibly having Graves’ disease or whether her eyes highlighted her sassiness, success, or sexiness, there is a story to be told if we listen. Certain eye-related medical conditions can be diagnosed (often in an early stage) with regular vision exams.

Some health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure can cause vision problems. This is because the capillaries and blood vessels of the eyes are affected. Both of these medical conditions can be treated and many patients report an improvement in their vision afterward.

Famous People are Just like Us

Okay, maybe our photos aren’t on the covers of magazines or we are not incredibly rich, but when it comes to eye health, we are all on the same page. Regular vision exams are important for everyone because they can detect problems and offer solutions.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t look you directly in the eye? He was believed to have a condition known as ‘lazy eye.’ In his case, he had a displaced eye muscle, possibly because he was kicked in the head by a horse as a child.

‘Lazy eye’ is still a medical condition today and generally it’s diagnosed in children under 7. It’s caused when one eye doesn’t develop as it should, shifting the focus of vision to the other eye while the ‘lazy eye’ is almost ignored. The good news is that there are ways to successfully treat this.

Ray Charles, known for his exceptional musical talent, was born was congenital glaucoma. Sadly, this was not diagnosed and resulted in blindness by the time he was seven years old.

Today, there are glaucoma tests that are done quickly and painlessly. People over the age of 40 should be checked for this medical condition at least every one to two years. Glaucoma develops because of increased fluid pressure in the eyes. Often, there are no early symptoms of this disease. If left untreated, blindness could result.

Look on the Bright Side

Our eyes not only allow us to see and interact with the world around us; they can also reveal medical conditions that need to be addressed. Through regularly scheduled vision exams, you can get an early diagnosis on certain problems and start to receive treatment.

Even if you don’t have famous eyes like Bette Davis, make sure they are seen at vision exams. If you need corrective glasses, have your eye doctor ‘autograph’ a prescription for you. And if you plan on becoming famous, be sure to get a pair of prescription sunglasses in case you need to hide out from your fans for a while.

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questions about eye health - Smart Vision Labs

Eye Q&A: Things to Ask, Things to Know

Do you have any Eye Q? (This is not to be confused with IQ which I am sure you have in abundance.)

Eye Q refers to any questions about eye health. We all wonder and even worry about certain things pertaining to your eyes. This is a quick glance at some of the more common questions (and answers) people have about their eye health.

Knowledge is power and the more you know about your eyes, the better position you will be in to keep them healthy.

Q: How often should I have my vision checked?
A: If you are already wearing corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses, the American Optometric Association recommends a vision exam every year. If your vision is not currently being corrected by prescriptive eyewear, and if you are between 18 and 60, an exam every two years is recommended.

Having your vision checked regularly is the number one thing you can do to maintain eye health.

Q: Which is better—eyeglasses or contact lenses?
A: Both have advantages and disadvantages. Glasses don’t need a lot of maintenance and cleaning; they don’t touch your eyes so there is less chance of infection; they are often cheaper. On the con side, they are very visible and you may not like how they look especially if you need to wear thicker lenses because of a strong prescription.

Contact lenses can usually correct your vision better since they are directly on your eye, providing a wider field of view with less obstruction. They are also better for playing sports, are not affected by weather, and can even change your eye color if you desire.

Although the choice of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses is strictly up to you and your lifestyle, it all starts with a vision exam to determine if you need a prescription.

Q: Why is my vision getting worse?
A: Did you worry the last time your prescription needed to change? Did you wonder if perhaps your eyesight is failing? Most people feel disappointed or discouraged if they need a stronger prescription but knowing possible reasons why their vision needs extra correction may give them peace of mind.

If you suffer from dry eyes, your vision can become blurrier. This condition is a result of low tear production and many people do not even realize they have this until they get their vision checked. On the positive side, using a product for artificial tears (which your eye doctor might prescribe) can improve dry eyes and possibly improve your vision.

Certain diseases like diabetes or the presence of cataracts can diminish the quality of your vision. By having regular vision exams, these conditions can be diagnosed and treated, often when they are still in an early stage.

Q: What can I do to keep my eyes healthy?
A: The number one way to maintain eye health is to have regular vision exams. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in a while, you may be happily surprised to see how technology has improved the convenience of these exams. You can stop in at a participating provider for a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam. If you are concerned about affordability, and if you have a FSA or HSA, you may be able to use the money from these accounts for the exam or corrective eyewear.

So when you are thinking about any Eye Qs you have, perhaps the best one may be: Am I due for a vision exam? If you haven’t had one in a year, the answer is yes.


Blue light and your eyes - Smart Vision Labs

Seeing Blue?

You have probably heard that spending long hours using the computer can cause eye strain but do you know why? Learning about the connection between computer monitors and digital eye strain will also clue you in on how to reduce the uncomfortable side effects.

Why Does Using a Computer Hurt Your Eyes?

Initially, you might think it has to do with the light being too bright for your eyes. But this is only part of the answer. It is indeed the light from your monitor that causes eye strain but it is a certain type.

Your computer screen emits blue light and that specifically is what your eyes are reacting to. Blue light is also called high energy visible light, or HEV light. For reference, it is only one stage lower in energy than ultraviolet (UV) light. Blue light is the highest energy light that we can also see, therefore the name HEV.

Digital eye strain occurs because your eye isn’t very good at blocking light in the blue part of the spectrum. While only a tiny bit (less than one percent) of UV light actually reaches the sensitive retina, nearly all blue light does. (Note that sunglasses are necessary to block 100 percent of UV rays because even the small amount that gets through is very damaging.) Blue light tires your eyes out because it is both high energy and is easily scattered. It doesn’t focus as well the rest of the light spectrum which causes the eye strain you feel after staring at your computer screen.

How Do You Avoid Blue Light?

Well, you can’t, not entirely. While blue light is associated with digital devices like computers and smartphones, the sun itself is a natural source of this light. The white light from the sun is made from the combination of all the colors which compose the light spectrum, blue included. The sun is the primary source of exposure to HEV light.

Additionally, you actually don’t want to avoid all of it. Keep in mind that sunlight contains blue light and exposure to the sun, so your body can manufacture vitamin D, is essential to good physical and mental health. The presence of blue light also helps your body maintain its natural sleep/wake cycle, called circadian rhythm.

Of course, there are many man-made sources which emit blue light as well. But, unlike with sunlight, we can limit our exposure to these. Smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and television screens are indoor sources of blue light. Lamps with fluorescent or LED bulbs also shine using blue light. While these items all give off way less HEV light than the sun, we also spend quite a bit of time exposed to them, which increases their negative effects.

Solutions to Blue Light Exposure

Just as people have created the issue of digital eye strain from blue light with the prevalence of computers, they have also invented solutions so we can continue using our electronics in comfort. Of course, taking frequent breaks to rest your eyes is always helpful, regardless if you are using a phone or computer.

For your eyes, both anti-reflective lens coatings and special computer glasses are available. If you already wear prescription glasses, opting for an anti-reflective coating means you don’t have to do anything extra to protect yourself, other than make sure your glasses are actually on while using your device. If you prefer contact lenses or don’t need any vision correction, yellow tinted computer glasses are worth considering.

You could also block the blue light on the device itself. There are screen protectors available which filter it out while they keep scratches off your device. Some devices also have a setting built in to manage blue light.

So to keep your eyes from seeing red, limit the amount of blue that goes into them.

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Get your eyes tested by taking a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam. Find one of our premier providers near you.


Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly? - Smart Vision Labs

Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?

No, this isn’t about whether your eye doctor has 20/20 vision and is therefore physically qualified to examine you. (Although that might be a good topic!) This is about your eye doctor ‘seeing’ the law when it comes to obeying the consumer protection guidelines.

Let’s Look at the Eyeglass Rule

The federal law states:

  • Your eye doctor must give you one copy of your eyeglasses prescription immediately after the vision exam.
  • Your eye doctor must not make the eye exam conditional upon you buying glasses or contacts from that establishment.
  • You may not be charged an additional fee for receiving your prescription.
  • You do not have to sign a waiver disclaiming the liability of the eye doctor and the diagnosis of your eyes’ condition if you choose purchase glasses or contacts elsewhere.

Let’s Look at the Contact Lens Rule

This federal law states:

  • The patient shall receive a copy of the prescription without incurring an additional charge for it.
  • The patient does not need to sign a waiver or release after receiving the prescription to remove any liability of the eye doctor.

Basically, whether you wear corrective glasses or contact lenses, you are entitled to a copy of your prescription after your vision exam. It’s the law.

Why FTC May be on the Eye Chart

While the standard eye chart with the large letter E at the top will not be redesigned to include the letters FTC, the Federal Trade Commission will indeed be keeping a closer eye on vision exams. That’s because many eye doctors are deliberately ignoring these consumer protection laws.

The laws are meant to benefit the patients and give them freedom of choice when purchasing corrective glasses or contacts. No one should have to purchase eye-wear from the place where they had their vision exam except if they choose to do so. Many people like to shop around and compare prices and these consumer laws protect that decision.

To better enforce this, the FTC has made a proposal that would require a patient to sign and acknowledge that they received a copy of their contact lens prescription. The eye doctors would be required to keep their signed forms on file for three years.

Additionally the FTC has another provision that encourages the use of Internet portals whereby patients could get a copy of their prescription online. The portal would be password-protected to ensure security and the patient’s right to privacy, but would also provide easy accessibility to this important information.

Interestingly, while reviewing the current compliance of eye doctors concerning contact lens prescriptions, the government agency did not find any increased risk for the patient if they bought contact lenses from other retailers. This is additional encouragement and motivation for patients to shop around and purchase their corrective eye-wear from a place that will also fit into their financial budgets.

Nearsighted Eye Doctor?

You won’t need to give your eye doctor a vision test to determine a nearsighted condition. If the doctor wants to keep your purchase ‘near’ (as in you must buy glasses or contacts in the place where you got your exam) then you may be best served by requesting your prescription so you can shop elsewhere.

The law is the law and there is really only one way to ‘see’ it.

Editor’s note: When you take a Smart Vision Exam you have access to your contact lens or eyeglass prescription through our telemedicine platform. 

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Why does my vision keep getting worse? - Smart Vision Labs

Why Does My Vision Keep Getting Worse?

It can be discouraging when your vision exam results show you need a stronger prescription. This is especially true if you are careful to always wear your glasses when you need them, whether it is just while reading or all the time. After an exam, hearing that your vision is now worse isn’t the news you were hoping for.

Don’t get upset and blame your glasses though. There are many reasons why your eyes don’t see quite as well as they did at your last vision test. And none of them have to do with your glasses.

Growing Up…

The eyes change shape in order to focus incoming light on the correct spot on the retina. However, children’s eyeballs are still small and aren’t finished growing to their full adult size yet. This limits the flexibility of the eye and inhibits its ability to focus. It is fairly common for children to be farsighted because of this. As their bodies and eyes grow, their near vision can actually improve.

Vision changes due to eye growth are more apparent if they are wearing eyeglasses already. The continued development of the eyes in children means they will also need to update their prescription eyeglasses more often than an adult. Their lenses may become too weak even within a few months if they are going through a growth spurt.

…or Growing Old

Aging again becomes a factor in deteriorating vision after age 40. As you get older, along with the rest of your body, your eyes lose elasticity which weakens their ability to focus. In order to see objects close up, the eyes contract and the lens thickens, which makes the lens of the eye more convex. The reduced elasticity due to aging makes it more difficult for your eyes to shape themselves properly to look at things near to them, like when reading a book. Because the eye can’t compensate for this, corrective lenses are needed.

Tiredness and Eye Strain

Sometimes, weak vision is temporary. Blurry vision that goes away on its own may be caused by eye strain, not an out-of-date prescription. Noticing that your eyes feel tired, itchy, too dry, or too watery are some other signs. When doing something strenuous for your eyes, such as using a computer, taking frequent breaks about every 20 minutes to focus your eyes on something else will relieve the stress.

It’s Not Your Glasses

A common myth is that wearing glasses will make your eyes weaker. The idea behind this is that, because the lenses are doing the focusing work, your eyes can become “out of shape” due to lack of practice resulting in becoming dependent on the glasses to see at all.

It is actually because your eyes are (literally) out of shape that you need vision correction in the first place. Common vision problems, like near or far-sightedness, are caused by the shape of your eyeball being too long or too short which prevents the incoming light from focusing on the correct spot in your eye. All the eyeglass lenses are doing is redirecting the light where it needs to go, depending on what vision issue you have.

If you need vision correction for something like astigmatism, leaving your glasses at home will not make your eyes work harder at fixing it. They will, in fact, work harder which will leave you suffering the effects of eye strain.

So, don’t be discouraged at your next vision exam. Prescription eyeglasses are not an indication that your eyes are failing; consider them a way to lend a helping hand to your eyes.

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Eye Care Tips from Smart Vision Labs

Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew  

A trip to your eye doctor’s office will leave you with information about your vision quality and current eye health. What isn’t usually part of the visit are how some day-to-day eye care tips might (or might not) affect your vision.

Popular eye care myths frequently get repeated and mixed along with legitimate facts about eye health. Other serious risks are brushed off due to the frequency of people doing them; sleeping in contacts can’t be that bad, can it?

Here are some eye care tips besides your vision your eye doctor would like to clear up for you.

Love to Read and Need Glasses?
Avid readers who also need glasses might blame their books for their eyewear. This is understandable because the stereotype of the smart bookworm with thick-framed eyeglasses exists. Reading a lot and reading under poor lighting conditions are often held liable when one needs vision correction. But it is (mostly) a myth.

Reading in dim lighting doesn’t cause permanent vision problems. It may result in eye strain, but any discomfort you might get, like dry or watery eyes, should subside after you stop the activity. Although you should always strive to read in a well-lit environment, temporarily doing so won’t cause long-term vision problems.

However, although there are several factors that go into whether or not one needs glasses, such as genetics, one of them is time spent reading. There is a link between people who read a lot and the prevalence of myopia. Nearsightedness isn’t only limited to readers; it is often seen when the person does close work frequently, such as using a computer or doing crafts like sewing.

Although a direct cause hasn’t been pinpointed (not everyone who does these activities is nearsighted), it has been speculated that it is partially due to the way the eye contracts while focusing on near objects. To see the print in a book, the eyeball stretches out and physically becomes longer. It may be that nearsightedness develops when the eye has to hold this position for long periods of time.

Read Your Contact Lens Instructions
Reading the usage directions on your package of contact lenses is important for your vision and eye health. Cleaning your contacts and taking them out at the right time is necessary to prevent eye infections and irritation, both of which stop you from wearing your lenses at all.

Depending on what material your contacts are made out of, they are all created to be worn for a specific length of time. Some are to be disposed of daily while others can be used for weeks with proper cleaning.

What the box doesn’t say is that you should never sleep in contact lenses, despite which material they are made from, with the exception of gas permeable lenses. Sleeping in contact lenses can create a condition called corneal neovascularization. The contact lens prevents oxygen from getting to the eye which forces the vessels to grow in an attempt to gain more air. In severe cases, it can permanently prevent you from ever being able to wear contacts again. Wearing them to bed, when you can’t see anything but dreams anyway, isn’t worth the risk.

Paper Products for Cleaning Glasses
Dirty lenses are annoying to see through so keeping your glasses clean is vital for good vision. However, most items you would think to use to clean your lenses actually should never go near them. Paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues are particularly bad. Although these items are usually associated with cleaning around the house, they are poor for washing glasses. Paper products are made from wood and are abrasive to your glasses, even those super-soft tissues. This quality, which makes them good for cleaning dirt, is terrible for the sensitive lenses of glasses. If your lenses are damaged, your vision will be impaired until you get the glasses repaired.

None of these eye care tips are secret, but keeping them in plain sight will preserve the quality of your glasses, contacts, and vision.

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Winter Eye Care Tips - Smart Vision Labs

Winter Eye Care Tips

‘Tis the season for eye health! Winter brings both the holidays and new situations to protect your eyes from. These winter eye care tips will make the cold weather a little easier on your eyes.

Hot and Cold

During winter, you likely use extra lotion to soothe your hands and carry a lip balm to prevent chapped lips. What do you do to treat dry eyes though? Dry eye can be an issue all year long but certain conditions relating to the cold months can make them more apparent. The air indoors is likely to be drier than in the warm months due to heaters or radiators running to keep you warm. The outdoor air can also be drier in the wintertime.

To counteract this, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to your home’s air flow. You may also benefit from lubricating eye drops. If you wear contact lenses, you might experience dry eyes. Your eye doctor should be able to recommend a product, either eye drops or a lens solution. This will keep your eyes moist and your contact lenses comfortable to wear.

Fun in the Sun… and Snow

Are you someone who looks forward to winter activities and sports? Whether you’re an avid skier or snowboarder or you just like to go sledding with family, one of the dangers of being outside isn’t even the snow (technically). The same UV rays from the sun that your eyes need protection from during the warm summer are still around during the cold winter. On the contrary, if there is snow on the ground, the amount of UV rays you’re exposed to can be as much as double as is present during the summer months.

How? The bright sun reflects off the white surface of the snow which magnifies the rays and makes them even stronger. Snow blindness occurs when your eyes are overloaded with UV rays, causing temporary loss of vision. If you’re planning a ski trip, part of your gear should include goggles to reflect the sun. Even if it’s just the driveway that needs shoveling (while you dream of a ski trip), putting on a pair of sunglasses will stop the snow blindness.

Sights on Flu Season

Does cold air really make you sick? Despite what your mother told you, the answer is no. It’s just a popular myth. However, more people really do get sick in winter due to a variety of factors. Dry air (both indoors and outdoors), poor ventilation in homes, and interacting with large groups of people (whether going back to school or enjoying holiday gatherings) all contribute to the prevalence of sickness in the wintertime.

What does this have to do with your eyes? Being careful regarding your eye hygiene is a vital step in preventing, getting, or giving the gift of the flu during the holidays. When in public, avoid touching or rubbing your eyes as this can spread germs which lead to illness. The flu virus can survive two hours (or more) on everyday surfaces like doorknobs and table tops. Touching one of these infected items before rubbing your eyes introduces the virus to your immune system very quickly.

Washing your hands often and being aware of when you are touching your eyes goes a long way toward avoiding illness. It’s worth noting you might not feel the need to rub your eyes often if they are properly moisturized.

These eye care tips can help make the winter months more comfortable for your eyes and help you to enjoy the season.

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Snow Blindness - What to do and how to prevent it - Smart Vision Labs

What to Know About Snow Blindness

Despite the name, snow blindness can happen even without the snow. The medical term for this condition is photokeratitis and it occurs when your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, either from the sun or from a man-made source. The UV rays damage the eyes, often on a temporary basis, and cause pain and other symptoms.

Snow blindness is a particular form of photokeratitis that happens when the ultraviolet rays are reflected off ice or snow. Photokeratitis can also occur if the UV rays are reflected off water or sand, or if you stare the sun or watch a solar eclipse without wearing eye protection. If can even happen without sunlight when using a tanning bed or sun lamp without eye protection.

The danger with snow blindness is that you may not know you are irritating your eyes until after the damage has been done. The presence of UV rays does not cause an immediate reaction to the eyes but is more of a cumulative effect with prolonged exposure.

However, the symptoms of snow blindness are obvious and include: eye pain, blurry vision, tearing, swelling, sensitivity to light and sometimes temporary loss of vision. The severity of symptoms you may experience depends upon the length of time your eyes were exposed to the UV rays.

What Exactly Happens?
Think of snow blindness as having sunburn on your eyes. The UV rays affect the cornea, which is the thin, clear layer at the front of the eye. The conjunctiva, the cell layer inside the eyelids and the whites of the eyes are also very sensitive to prolonged exposure to these rays.

You probably already know what you skin feels like with sunburn. Now you can get a clearer picture of snow blindness when you understand the power of UV rays to burn these sensitive areas of the eyes.

How is it Treated?
If there is not too much damage, photokeratitis will heal by itself. Treatment is primarily designed to ease the pain and to prevent the eyes from further exposure to the UV rays. Pain relievers, either over-the-counter or prescribed by an eye doctor, may be taken. Eye drop antibiotics may also be prescribed.

Get out of the sun and put on a pair of sunglasses. Place a cold washcloth over your eyes. Using artificial tears is also helpful. After the eyes are irritated, and if there is no serious damage, the best course of treatment is to give the eyes a chance to heal by protecting them from further exposure.

How can it be Prevented?

Prevention and treatment of snow blindness follows the same principle: block the harmful UV rays. This is easily done with sunglasses or snow goggles. The best type of sunglasses is the wraparound variety. Glacier glasses with their darker lenses and side covers are also highly recommended. Be sure to wear eye protection even on overcast days since the UV rays are not stopped by clouds.

It you are taking certain medications, it may make you more susceptible than others to photokeratitis. These drugs can make you more vulnerable to UV damage: antibiotics, antideperessants, statins, antihistamines, and diabetes medications. If you concerned about whether you are at an increased risk for photokeratitis, ask your eye doctor.

Knowing how snow blindness occurs is the most important first step to preventing an eye condition that doesn’t ever have to happen.

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