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Category Archives: vision

Night Vision Deficiency

Do you have problems seeing at night? Millions of Americans do. You may just need glasses, especially if you’re nearsighted.

On the other hand, it could mean that you have cataracts or other issues. If you’re afraid to hit the road after dark because you can’t see, let your doctor know.

Causes

A wide range of conditions — from sun exposure to diabetes — makes it hard to see at night:

Cataracts. Your eye’s lens is right behind the pupil. As you age, cells grow and die inside it. That builds up debris and leads to cataracts. They don’t hurt, but they do get worse and slowly cloud your lens. The first symptom is often worse night vision. Because cataracts distort the light that comes into your eyes, you may see halos around lights — again, mostly at night. Blurry vision is also common.

Lack of vitamin A. It’s found in carrots and leafy vegetables. It helps keep the retina — the back of your eye where images are focused — healthy. Most Americans get enough vitamin A in their diets, but if you have a health issue that makes it hard for you to absorb nutrients (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, gastric bypass), you might have night vision problems.

Not enough zinc. Without it, vitamin A may not work as well as it should. The result: night blindness. Beef, poultry, beans, and nuts are rich sources. Most people in the U.S. get plenty of it from their food.

Retinitis pigmentosa. This rare genetic disorder affects young people, usually before age 30. A decline in night vision is often the earliest symptom. Some people lose all their sight. Others keep some vision.

Sunlight exposure. If you think your night vision is worse after a trip to the beach, you’re probably right. Sustained bright sunlight can worsen night vision for up to two days. Always wear your sunglasses to avoid this.

LASIK surgery problems. Complications after LASIK surgery are uncommon. But a few people have night vision problems after it. The most common complaints are glare and halos around objects, both of which distort vision. You may have symptoms during the day, too. They become more noticeable and bothersome, though, at night. The characteristics of your eyes may make you more prone to night vision problems after LASIK. They are easily identified, so ask your doctor to check to see if you’re at risk.

Diabetes. It makes you more likely to have night vision problems. Over years, high blood sugar damages the blood vessels and nerves in your eyes, which leads to a condition called retinopathy. If you have trouble seeing in low light, either indoors or outside, talk to your doctor.

A simple exam and conversation at an eye doctor’s office can show the cause of your night blindness. The doctor will use drops to open your eyes up wide (he’ll call this dilation). Then he’ll look into them with a slit-lamp, an upright microscope with a bright light on it.

Computer Vision Syndrome Facts

These days, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. That can put a real strain on your eyes.

Eye problems caused by computer use fall under the heading computer vision syndrome (CVS). It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and pain. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms.

Working adults aren’t the only ones affected. Kids who stare at tablets or use computers during the day at school can have issues, too, especially if the lighting and their posture are less than ideal.

Computers Affect Vision

CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries you might get at work. It happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over. And it can get worse the longer you continue the movement.

When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time.  They move back and forth as you read. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes react to changing images on the screen to create so your brain can process what you’re seeing. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare.

You’re more likely to have problems if you already have eye trouble, if you need glasses but don’t have them, or if you wear the wrong prescription for computer use.

Computer work gets harder as you age and the lenses in your eyes becomes less flexible. Somewhere around age 40, your ability to focus on near and far objects will start to go away. Your eye doctor will call this condition presbyopia.

Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule a visit with an eye doctor near you.

Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. When working at a computer, people blink less frequently — about one-third as often as they normally do — and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures, according to studies.

Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

food

Eat For Good Vision

Good eye health starts with the food on your plate. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.

Carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables also promote eye health and protect vision, and it’s true: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue, helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.

To get them, fill your plate with:

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards
  • Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
  • Eggs, nuts, beans, and other nonmeat protein sources
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices
  • Oysters and pork

A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight. That lowers your odds of obesity and related diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.