Pokemon Go and Eye Health

There are risks that go along with playing Pokemon GO nonstop.  That expanded time spent gazing at screens can have long-haul consequences for eye and vision wellbeing. Remember that computerized wireless screens transmit blue light radiation called High Energy Visible Blue Light, which can throw off your rest and, over time, might damage photoreceptors in the eyes.

With too much mobile screen time, there’s also a potential for digital eye strain brought on by an excessive amount of blue light radiation. This exposure can cause tiredness and alter sleeping patterns, not to mention causing hazy or unfocused vision, and dry eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches, and even myopia as children age.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent story, “Two Unexpected Ways Pokemon GO Can Affect Eye Health,” in Parent Herald: 

With users spending an average of 26 minutes a day using the app, Dr. Mark Jacquot, Clinical Director, LensCrafters, explains, “people, and parents of young children and adolescents in particular, should be aware of their overall screen time. In order to continue enjoying the game while minimizing the impact of mobile phones on vision, be aware of how much time you or your children are spending in front of screens each day and take regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Perhaps check out each PokeStop or Pokemon GO gym for a few minutes to give your eyes a break and take in some new scenery before continuing on in pursuit of a Dragonite.”

Continue to make your eye health a priority, even in gaming season and as you’re chasing Pokemon characters with your friends. It’s August, which means children’s eye health and safety month so it’s especially important for kids to practice safe screen time and make sure that they’re being wise about how they interact with electronics.

3 Eye Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

As I often say, your eyesight is one of your most precious resources. It’s imperative to be vigilant about protecting your eyes and getting regular checkups. In between checkups, you still want to keep an eye on your eyes. Today.com published a useful roundup of “5 eye symptoms you should never ignore.” Here are the three of the symptoms that were mentioned and why they’re important to pay attention to.

    1. When You See Floaters Accompanied by Flashes of Light Generally speaking, eye floaters aren’t indicative of anything wrong with your eyes. You know eye floaters when you see them, WebMD describes them as “small moving spots that appear in your field of vision…[that are] especially noticeable when you look at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.” But if you see floaters while also seeing what appears to be a lightning streak in your peripheral vision, then see your ophthalmologist. It might be that you’re experiencing posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), which is typically a benign condition. The National Eye Institute says, “Although a vitreous detachment does not threaten sight, once in awhile some of the vitreous fibers pull so hard on the retina that they create a macular hole to or lead to aretinal detachment. Both of these conditions are sight-threatening and should be treated immediately.” The good news is that your eye doctor can diagnose the cause of the problem–and, if necessary, begin early treatment–with a comprehensive dilated eye examination.
    2. When Contact Wearers Have Red, Teary Eyes An eye infection of the cornea known as keratitis can cause redness, pain, inflammation and discharge in the eye. This condition is common with contact wearers who sleep in their contacts–which you should never do, even if they’re labeled extended wear.
    3. When One of Your Pupils Looks Larger Than the Other The condition of having unequal pupils, which is called anisocoria, can be purely physiological or it can be a sign of a neurological issue (i.e. aneurysm, tumor, a brain infection or a sign of a stroke). If the difference in pupil size is something you’ve never noticed before, and you haven’t recently used eye drops which could be causing your pupils to react, then call your doctor.





Keratoconus and New Stem Cell Research

Did you know the cornea is the only living tissue that has no direct or indirect connection to blood vessels to obtain the oxygen and nutrients it needs to remain healthy? Instead, it absorbs oxygen from the outside air (diffused through the tears) and it gains nutrients from the inside using the aqueous humor (fluid that fills the chamber behind it).

According to WebMD, we see through the cornea, which can be described as the clear outer lens or “windshield” of the eye. Normally, the cornea has a dome shape, like a ball. Sometimes, however, the structure of the cornea is just not strong enough to hold this round shape and the cornea bulges outward like a cone. This condition is called keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a progressive non-inflammatory disorder that causes a characteristic thinning and cone-like steepening of the cornea. According to WebMD, it is caused by a decrease in protective antioxidants in the cornea. The cornea cells produce damaging by-products, like exhaust from a car. Normally, antioxidants get rid of them and protect the collagen fibers. If antioxidants levels are low, the collagen weakens and the cornea bulges out.

How is Keratoconus treated?

Treatment usually starts with new eyeglasses. If eyeglasses don’t provide adequate vision, then contact lenses, usually rigid gas permeable contact lenses, may be recommended. With mild cases, new eyeglasses can usually make vision clear again. Eventually, though, it will probably be necessary to use contact lenses or seek other treatments to strengthen the cornea and improve vision.

However, most recently, researchers in Japan and Wales found that human cells reprogrammed to become stem cells were able to form cornea tissue in lab dishes. This was reported on March 9th in the Science and Medicine publication, Nature. The stem cell tissue was used to repair the damaged outer layer of the cornea in rabbits. In a separate study also published March 9 in Nature, researchers in China and the United States coaxed stem cells in the eyes of a dozen babies born with cataracts to regrow clear lenses.

The researchers also studied 37 babies who were born with cataracts. Regular cataract surgery, which involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a plastic one, was done for 25 of the babies. In the remaining 12 babies, doctors made a small incision in the side of the sack containing the lens and extracted the cataract, but didn’t replace the lens. Stem cells in the sack generated a new lens within about three months of surgery.

While both studies are technically proficient and provide new approaches to treating cataracts or corneal injuries, neither will soon be ready for widespread use in the clinic, says Henry Klassen, an ophthalmologist at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.





How to Treat a Poison Victim

FDWWL3XG5FRB66D.MEDIUMHelping a poisoning victim can be tricky, since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But in every case, it’s vital to find out what the toxin is and seek help.  This blog post includes emergency tips to help prepare for identifying and treating a poisoning victim.

If you need to evaluate a child for poisoning, or if someone refuses to answer questions about what they may have ingested, as in the case of a suicidal person, you can look for these common signs.

The victim may have burns or redness around the mouth or lips, or burns, stains and odors on their body, clothing, or other objects nearby. They may also have paint, powders, or other liquids around the face and nostrils. Likewise, a strong chemical odor, such as gasoline or paint thinner, may be on their breath. Look for any empty medication bottles or scattered pills, or spilled or empty containers for chemical, paint, or household products. The individual may show signs of nausea or begin vomiting, become drowsy or unconscious, experience difficulty breathing, or even respiratory arrest. The victim may also be agitated or restless, or seizing or twitching uncontrollably. Assume that the person is poisoned until proven otherwise, and take action on treating a poisoning victim. If the person has no symptoms, but you suspect poisoning, call your regional poison control center. Provide age, weight, and any information you may have about the poison, such as how much of it was ingested and how long since the person was first exposed to it. If possible, it will help to have the pill bottle or container on hand when you call.

Helping a poisoning victim can be tricky, since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But in every case, it’s vital to find out what the toxin is and seek help.

Step 1: Call your local emergency number to request help.

Step 2: If the poison is emitting fumes or there is a strong chemical odor in the room, move the person into fresh air.

Step 3: Put on gloves, if available, to prevent contamination. Check for any remaining poisonous substance in the victim’s mouth. If you find any, wipe it away. If the poison is spilled on the person’s clothing, remove the clothing.

Step 4: If the victim isn’t breathing, and you have a CPR mask or face shield, and you’re certified CPR, begin rescue breathing.

Step 5: If poison for exposed on bare skin or in the eyes, flush with lukewarm water for 20 minutes or until help arrives.

Step 6: If the toxin is a household product, check the label for advice, or contact your local poison-control hotline. Do not induce vomiting or administer a charcoal slurry unless instructed to do so.

Step 7: If the victim goes to the emergency room, take the pill bottle or package that contained what was ingested. That will help doctors start proper treatment immediately.

Source: Johnson, R. (2012). The ultimate survival manual. San Francisco, CA: Weldon Owen.

The Role of Bioflavonoids

hargrave eye center Bioflavonoids are a group of thousands of nutrients found in plant foods.  We actually don’t need to eat bioflavonoids for our bodies or cells to function, but we get a lot of benefits when we do:

These nutrients are not only antioxidants, but are anti-cancer, anti-infectious (i.e., they boost your immunity), anti-allergy, and anti-inflammatory. And pretty delicious too: coffee, tea, chocolate (dark, without the sugar and fat), and berries are high in bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are also found in red peppers, sweet peppers, citrus fruit, garlic, spinach, and apples.  That’s why “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but its smart to eat more than just apples, because our bodies need more antioxidants than one apple a day provides.

In binding metals, bioflavonoids prevent them from causing oxidation within your body.  You may be thinking, I have metals in my body?  Yes, you do — everyone does.  And having some metal is good for you, just like having some vitamins and some bacteria. Think of iron, for example. But unfortunately, science has shown that most of us come into contact with far too much metal in our environment.

Metals are in our air, our drinking water, our soil, and in our food, even in medications. In fact, some vitamin and fish oil pills have metals, which can stem from their sources or their manufacturing.  Metals also leach into our food supply from the diet of farm animals or from processing meats, as shown in many documentaries concerning the source of animals products in the United States and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, these are just a few ways we can unknowingly come into contact with toxic metals. But there are also a few targeted ways to avoid known sources of ingested metals.  This blog post outlines the top 3:

1. Avoid processed foods. The more your meal is processed, the more machines your food has come into physical contact with.  The more machines your food touches, the more likely that metals from those machines have leached into it.  If you eat unprocessed foods, the chance of it coming into contact with metals in minimal at best. And don’t forget about all those other oxidants that go into processed foods.  If possible, go organic, to avoid herbicides and pesticides that can contain toxins and metals such as arsenic.

2. Avoid air pollution. From cigarette smoke to car exhaust, to other gas fumes, these pollutants contain toxic metals that, once inhaled, may be immensely hard to get out of your body.  Even as you walk around an idling car or a person smoking outside a building, simply increasing your distance can help minimize your contact. Also, be sure to jog or bike away from busy roadways if you can.

3. Avoid toxic metals at home. Beyond lead paint, art supplies can contain mercury; plastics (such as vinyl) that are used to make lunch boxes, toys, and furniture can contain lead and toxins; some costume jewelry and even children’s jewelry can contain toxic metals including lead and cadmium; and dish ware can contain lead.  Test items in your home for lead.  A home test kit is easy to buy. Pay attention to where the things you buy are made and avoid buying products made in countries whose products test positive for lead in your home today.  While you can’t go back in time and mitigate past risk, you can make healthier choices for your family.

Source: Adams, N. (2014). The Power of Oxygen. In Healthy vision: Prevent and reverse eye disease through better nutrition. Lyons Press.