The Unfortunate Truth After the Eclipse: Vision Damage

It is five months since the total eclipse of the sun crossed over our globe.  If you were one of those lucky people who viewed the amazing astronomical display, you were probably more prepared and protected than those viewing eclipses in previous years.  Massive public health campaigns helped guide watchers to safe methods of watching the eclipse.  However, despite these efforts, many watchers may still suffer from solar retinopathy, a condition affecting the very center of the retina of our eyes.  

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What is Solar Retinopathy:

The retinal layer most susceptible to solar damage is the photoreceptor layer.   Although, we have another layer responsible for absorbing solar radiation, it can only absorb a certain percentage.  Once this level is reached the temperature of the retinal tissue rises causing thermal damage ­– aka solar burn.  Additionally, the ultraviolet radiation exposure during an eclipse can also cause photochemical damage of the retina.  

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The Colander Trick: A smart way to view the eclipse without harming your eyes – Image Source

The likelihood of having solar retinopathy is very slim if people saw the sun briefly without a protective filter – as in a fraction of a second.  However, if longer viewing of the sun occurred whether intentionally or due to faulty filters the chances of retinopathy increase proportionally.  Most symptoms of solar retinopathy develop after approximately 12 hours.  Typically, the very center of the vision is blurred with a spot or multiple spots of missing vision (scotomas) and may be accompanied by color vision changes, light sensitivity and distorted vision.  More than half of those with solar retinopathy have it in one eye only.

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The good news is, over half of the cases of solar retinopathy reported in the past show that most of the retinal changes caused by solar burns are reversible in several months to a year.  However, there are cases of sustained vision loss and visual disturbance after eclipse viewing.  Children are particularly sensitive and at greater risk of permanent damage.  An article in the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, concluded that, “solar retinopathy in children can cause persistent damage to multiple retinal layers despite recovery of good visual acuity”.  It is crucial for future efforts to focus on educating parents, teachers and children on protecting their eyes during an eclipse and making approved safety filters affordable and accessible.  

 

What Do You See When You Have Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a refractive error impacting the curvature of the cornea (the clear round dome covering the iris and pupil) or the shape of the lens (the transparent, flexible tissue located directly behind the iris and the pupil). This common refractive error affects one in three people and may occur in combination with near- or farsightedness. Both the cornea and lens help focus light rays sharply onto the retina in the back of the eye. When a person has astigmatism, the cornea or lens isn’t smooth or uniformly curved, thereby causing light rays to refract improperly. In sports terms, a normal cornea is curved like a basketball with the same degree of roundness everywhere. One with astigmatism is curved more like a football, with some areas that are steeper or rounder.

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Astigmatism causes images to focus in front of and beyond the retina, resulting in both near and far objects appearing out of focus or distorted. It’s almost akin to looking into a fun house mirror in which a person sees themselves and others distorted – appearing too tall, wide, or thin. It is possible for astigmatism to affect the cornea and lens (mixed astigmatism). In such cases, the unequal curvature of the cornea and the lens can cause one meridian of the eye to be farsighted and a second meridian (perpendicular to the first) to be nearsighted.

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Signs and Symptoms of Astigmatism

In addition to distorted or blurry vision, uncorrected astigmatism can lead to headaches, fatigue, squinting, pain in the muscles around the eye, and difficulty with night vision. When astigmatism is mild, it may not produce noticeable symptoms or require correction. Astigmatism can gradually worsen with age, most likely due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.

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Astigmatism Research

A 2011 study analyzed the prevalence of astigmatism by severity in more than 11,600 eyeglass wearers who were being fitted for soft contact lenses. The prevalence of patients with astigmatism of 0.75 and 1.00 diopters or greater in at least one eye was 47.4% and 31.8% respectively, and in both eyes, 24.1% and 15.0%, respectively. The prevalence of astigmatism of 0.75 diopters or greater was almost double in people with nearsightedness compared to those with farsightedness: 31.7% vs. 15.7%. This study provided insightful data on how many people would require special toric contact lenses for correction.

In an experimental study, uncorrected astigmatism was found to aggravate eye discomfort associated with reading text on computer screens. A study analyzing neck/shoulder discomfort related to computer use found many cases were temporary, however, some eye conditions exacerbated this discomfort. During visually demanding, cumulative computer work, researchers found astigmatism, extent of accommodation, and concurrent internal eye discomfort symptoms (e.g. dry eye, ache or strain) all increased neck/shoulder discomfort.

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A previous study on 12 youngsters with normal vision analyzed the impact of induced astigmatism on reading a computer screen. The presence of induced astigmatism produced a significant increase in post-task symptoms, however, reading rates and the number of reading errors were unaffected. Researchers concluded the correction of small astigmatic refractive errors may optimize comfort for computer users.

Astigmatism Measurements and Correction

Astigmatism is measured in diopters, therefore an eye without any traces of astigmatism is measured at 0 diopters. Most people have 0.5 to 0.75 diopters of astigmatism. The last two numbers on an eyeglass prescription refer to astigmatism. Cylinder is the measurement indicating the extent of astigmatism and flatness or irregularity of the cornea shape. Axis is the measurement in degrees referring to the location on the cornea where the astigmatism occurs. Axis numbers range from 0 to 180.

People with a measurement of 1.5 diopters or more typically need eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct the imperfection in order to see clearly. Many people assume they cannot wear contacts if they have astigmatism.

In astigmatism, varying degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness require toric lenses rather than regular soft contacts. Toric lenses have different meridians to correct refractive variances and a special design feature that enables the lens to rotate to the proper orientation on the cornea. This allows the power meridians of the lens to align with the appropriate meridians of the eye. To better understand meridians, envision the front of the eye as a clock face. A line connecting the 12 and 6 is one meridian; a line connecting the 3 and 9 is another. The steepest and flattest meridians of an eye with astigmatism are called principal meridians.

Testing Astigmatism at Home

Two types of tests can be performed with the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker. The Practice Test is comprised of three measurements per eye, with the EyeQue Miniscope detached and attached on your smartphone. The Full Test measures astigmatism and generates EyeGlass Numbers that are the same professional measurements used for refractive correction. For each eye, nine measurements are conducted, each one corresponding to a different angle. Once you receive your vision data, you can use your EyeGlass Numbers to order glasses online.

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Happy New Year 2018 from EyeQue

Happy New Year! 

The year 2017 seems to have passed with the blink of an eye. The beginning of a new year is often a time to reflect on accomplishments from the last year and to set goals for the year to come. If you’re one of the thousands who are using EyeQue, you can add “taking charge of vision care” to your list of accomplishments.

Speaking on behalf of the entire EyeQue team, we are grateful for all of the support received during the introduction of the Personal Vision Tracker. Many of you have been kind enough to make the time and effort to give us feedback – which has proven invaluable to improving the accuracy and usability of our offerings. The trust placed in us is heartfelt and we will continue to work hard to insure we turn out affordable, innovative vision monitoring devices that can be used by virtually anyone.

For 2018, we look forward to serving the growing EyeQue user community. In the next year, we aim to further empower you with more ways to monitor your vision, with a constant focus on improving usability, accuracy, and accessibility. We will be expanding our cloud services to include alerts, notifications, and enhanced analysis of vision test results providing you with more insight into your own vision data. We also pledge to continuously stock our Vision Knowledge Center with fresh content and to provide some free tests for anyone to try.

Finally, we will continue working with the global eye care community to determine how our technologies can be used to enhance patient services and bring testing to more people around the world – many of whom don’t have access to local eye care providers.

We wish you a happy, healthy new year!

John Serri, PhD.
Founder, EyeQue

 

What People Are Saying About EyeQue

“Advancements in optical, mobile, and cloud based technologies have allowed us to miniaturize what has traditionally been room-sized, costly optical test equipment. The ability for people to take these tests, track vision changes over time, share the results with doctors, and order online glasses with the results – all from the comfort of their home and for about $30 (MSRP) has immediate and profound impact on the global population’s access to corrected vision,” said John Serri, PhD, founder of EyeQue.

Since its award-winning debut in January 2017 at the CES Consumer Technology show until June 1, 2017, more than 15,000 EyeQue Personal Vision Trackers (PVTs) have been shipped to customers in 81 countries. And on June 1, the PVT was made available on Amazon, enabling more people to benefit from this easy-to-use, cost-effective home vision test. Here are a few of the many verified purchase, five-star reviews left by valued EyeQue customers.

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“It’s so hard to get out to the Doctor’s when you have 3 kids. EyeQue saved me a trip to the Eye Doctor’s and that is invaluable! I was concerned I was losing my vision but the test proved me wrong.  It was great peace of mind!’

Kristin F. Quinn

Lifestyle Blogger & Marketing Consultant

www.misadventuresinmommyhood.com

 

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“I look at the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker as a tool to keep me on track with my health and a baseline for what my eye doctor eye exams 

determine. The convenience and portability of this tracker is what really makes it stand out for me. It is not always easy to head to an eye doctor so this might be a good starting point for those who may need glasses or need a new prescription.”

Cherise Kachelmuss

https://momandmore.com/

Five Star Amazon Reviews

Love It five-star-clipart-4

I just got my first pair of distance glasses based on the prescription that the EyeQue gave me, and I am quite impressed. I am 59, with moderate nearsightedness. I took 5 tests on the EyeQue to be sure I was using it right. I have been getting my glasses from Zenni online for about 8 years now…. (Verified purchase by Fair Witness, July 9, 2017)

Love This Vision Tracker! five-star-clipart-4

Awesome! Love the concept. It takes a little time to get familiar with the testing procedure but it is easy to follow. I already took a few tests. Will continue to try it on myself and on my family. Works well on my iPhone and I don’t need to remove my phone case to mount the tracker. (Verified purchase by YI LUO, July 29, 2017)

Worked Better Than Doctor’s Prescription five-star-clipart-4

I’m giving the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker 5 stars because it provided eyeglass numbers which resulted in better glasses than two previous prescriptions by my eye doctor. I received my first prescription from my eye doctor about 6 months ago and had glasses made, but they left me with fuzzy vision. I went back to the doctor, received another prescription and had another pair of glasses made which also left me with fuzzy vision, so I decided to try the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker…

After completing about 10 tests, I felt confident that my eyeglass numbers were optimized (each subsequent test builds on the data from the preceding ones) and I used those numbers to order glasses from Zenni Optical. (The thing that changed most from one prescription to the next to the eyeglass numbers was the axis of correction for astigmatism.)

I received those glasses two days ago and have been wearing them since. They are perfect! No fuzzy vision….(Verified purchase by Jay Aitchsee, August 5, 2017)

Ingenious Little Productfive-star-clipart-4

Device, when used properly, works as advertised. Results matched well with a recent professional eyeglass scrip and customer service was prompt and helpful with a couple of questions I e-mailed. Not to be used as a sole replacement for pro visits, however. Tests for problems such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are far too important to be dismissed. Still, this is a helpful product for people looking for between visit updates or who are just curious about their vision. (Verified purchase by John TK, September 23, 2017)

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Your Eye Doctor Won’t Like This, But You Will Love It. five-star-clipart-4

This device is awesome! It took about 20 minutes to learn and use, and out popped all the info required to order glasses far better than my last real prescription. I’m pretty skeptical of ALL of the reviews from the eye doctors on this list – my glasses are very clear and crisp – best ever…

I got my corrective glasses (can’t call it a prescription, right?) from Zenni. Three (THREE!!) pairs of glasses and the EyeQue for less than an eye doctor visit. (Verified purchase by Maker, October 25, 2017)

Five Stars five-star-clipart-4

Seems to be a better eye exam then the one I paid $300.00 for at my local eye doctor! (Verified purchase by John W. King, October 29, 2017)

Works Perfectly For Me five-star-clipart-4

After I came back from the optometrist, I tried this and it gave the exact reading the doctor gave for my prescription. I have to say it works perfectly and is accurate for me. It did take me a while to adjust it properly but when I did and followed the directions, this EyeQue is perfect for checking my eyesight. I love it. (Verified purchase by Hrhbella1, November 10, 2017)

To add to the discussion, visit us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Amazon.

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What Age Should You Start Testing Your Childs Vision?

Most young children have some degree of hyperopia (farsightedness). Other prevalent preschool vision disorders include amblyopia and strabismus. Children with vision problems generally don’t complain because they can’t understand symptoms are abnormal and/or can’t articulate they are having problems. Studies have shown hyperopia can interfere with learning and development, which implies correction in young children might be beneficial. While most states require vision screening before entrance into kindergarten, only 16 states mandate preschool vision testing. This leaves many parents confused about when preschool children’s vision should be tested.

AOA Recommendations

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends scheduling the first eye assessment when a baby is 6-months old or earlier if they are at risk. During the test, an optometrist will look for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism; eye movement ability; and eye health problems. Launched in 2005, InfantSEE® is a public health program managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation. Under this program, participating optometrists provides a no-cost comprehensive infant eye assessment at 6-12 months of age.

After the initial infant exam, the AOA recommends vision testing at age 3, before first grade, and every 2 years thereafter in children ages 6-18 who are not at risk or asymptomatic. For those with problems, exams should also be done at age 3 (or as recommended) and annually or as recommended in children ages 6-18.

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AAO and AAPOS Guidelines

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) recommend the following exams:

Newborns: An ophthalmologist, pediatrician, family doctor or other trained health professional should examine a newborn baby’s eyes and perform a red reflex test (a basic indicator the eyes are normal). If the baby is premature or at high risk for other medical problems, shows signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious childhood vision disorders, an ophthalmologist should perform the exam.

Infants: A second screening for eye health should be done by an ophthalmologist, pediatrician, family doctor, or other trained health professional as part of a well-child exam at 6-12 months-old.

Preschool Age: At age 3-3 1/2, vision and eye alignment should be assessed by a pediatrician, family doctor, ophthalmologist, optometrist, orthoptist, or person trained in vision assessment of preschool-age children.

School Age: When entering school (or if a problem is suspected), visual acuity and alignment tests should be administered by a pediatrician, family doctor, ophthalmologist, optometrist, orthoptist, or person trained in vision assessment of school-age children (e.g. school nurse). If an alignment problem or other eye health issues is suspected, it’s important to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist.

AAP Policies

In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its vision screening policy statement with two notable standard of care updates.

  •    Annual photoscreening is now recommended for children starting at ages 1-3
  •    Visual acuity testing is now recommended for children starting at age 4, when possible

Instrument-based screening devices have been extensively validated through AAP and other studies, therefore they may be electively performed in children ages 6 months to 3 years-old. When performed and interpreted correctly by appropriately trained individuals, these instruments usually identify the presence of common childhood eye conditions such amblyopia, high refractive error, and strabismus.

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Research on Preschool Vision Screenings

Preschool vision screenings have been recommended as a cost-effective way to identify children with vision disorders who might benefit from early detection, treatment, or follow-up eye care. In Phase 1 of a large-scale study, 2,588 3-5-year-olds enrolled in Head Start were screened by eye care professionals for potential problems with 11 different preschool vision screening tests. Phase 2 of the study utilized the most accurate screening tests from the prior phase, with trained nurses and lay screeners administering the tests. Researchers compared results from the second phase with those achieved by the eye care professionals. Accuracy and speed were virtually the same for both groups, with small variances attributed to screening equipment rather than personnel.

A recent study published in Pediatrics showed instrument-based vision screening resulted in greater completed screenings among 3-5-year-olds. The rate increased from 54% to 89% in the phase 1 group and from 65% to 92% in the phase 2 group. Improvement was most notable among 3-year-olds, with completed screening increasing from 39% with charts to 87% with instruments.

Testing Your Child’s Vision at Home

If you wish to test your child’s vision more frequently than the aforementioned guidelines, now you can do so in the comfort of your own home, as often as you wish. EyeQue Insight screens vision for 20/20 to 20/400 in less than 3 minutes, providing exact measures of single and dual eye performance. It runs in two modes, simple straightforward “adult” mode, and gamified “kids” mode to make vision testing fun for children. In school-age children, myopia (nearsightedness) is quite prevalent and can occur with rapid onset. Testing your child’s eyes at home is a great way to detect a potential problem early and follow up with a visit to the eye doctor.

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How Effective Are Vision Screenings?

The laws mandating vision screenings for school-age children vary by state. The vast majority of states have some mandates, although Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota do not have vision screening requirements. Arizona, Montana, and South Carolina recommend vision screenings, but do not require them. Kentucky requires a vision exam and Nebraska requires a visual evaluation, both of which are similar to screenings. Most of the states with vision screening legislation require the first screening to take place prior to entry into kindergarten and then periodically during elementary to high school years.

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Children’s Vision Screening Programs

Vision impairments affect more than one in 20 preschool-age children, therefore many health- or vision-related organizations support vision screenings in children younger than kindergarten age. The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness advocates for a full continuum of care for young children by identifying vision conditions early, linking children to appropriate care, and ensuring they receive the care they need.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends vision screenings for all children at least once between ages 3-5 to detect the presence of amblyopia or its risk factors. The USPSTF found adequate evidence that treating amblyopia in this age group leads to moderately improved visual acuity. Evidence was lacking, however, linking treatment with a reduced incidence of long-term amblyopia or improved school performance, functioning, or quality of life. They also noted a higher false-positive rates in the youngest children, which could lead to over diagnosis or unnecessary treatment. The USPSTF concluded the benefits outweighed the small risks, finding adequate proof vision screening tools are accurate in detecting vision abnormalities such as refractive errors, strabismus, and amblyopia in young children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional societies recommend tests of visual acuity and stereoacuity or the use of an autorefractor or photoscreener. Currently, vision screenings in preschool children are required in only 16 states, so that means many youngsters could have amblyopia or other undetected vision problems by the time they enter school. Prevent Blindness has the only national certification program for children’s vision screening, providing course participants with certification in the most current, evidence-based vision screening and eye health best practices for preschool- and school-age children.

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How Many Children are Screened Annually?

Vision screenings are routinely offered in most primary care settings and also in some schools. The screening rates in 3-year-olds is about 40%, although this increases with age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published data on the number of children who received vision screenings before age 6, utilizing 2009-2010 data. According to CDC findings, nearly 78% of 1,141 5-year-olds had their vision checked by a doctor or other healthcare provider and only four of those attempts were unsuccessful.

Limitations of Vision Screenings

The American Optometric Association says the information obtained from a vision screening is akin to numbers obtained from a blood pressure measurement. When blood pressure is in the normal range, that doesn’t rule out other health problems. Likewise, vision screenings may detect possible issues, but only a comprehensive eye and vision examination can evaluate overall eye health and vision.

Limited testing: Many vision screenings only test visual acuity for distance. This does not take into account how well the eyes focus up close, their ability to work together, nor yield any information on potential underlying eye diseases. Some screenings include a plus lens test for farsightedness and a test of eye coordination. Yet even when additional screening tests are administered, vision problems are often missed.

Untrained personnel: Some administrative personnel or volunteers who conduct vision screenings may not have adequate training, therefore they cannot competently assess screening results.

Inadequate testing equipment: At primary care practices, the accuracy of vision screening may be limited by the type of testing equipment available. Room lighting, testing distances, and maintenance of the testing equipment can also skew results.

A Vision Service Plan Q&A with optometrist Michael McQuillan, OD, provides further insights on the limitations of vision screenings. He estimates 15-20% of school children have vision problems a screening is likely to miss. Binocular vision dysfunction, which can cause reading problems, is often not uncovered in screenings. Moreover, since distance learning is often the only thing tested, a child may have perfect 20/20 vision for seeing the school blackboard, but have difficulty reading books or seeing a computer screen.

Testing at Home with EyeQue Insight

Unlike one-time vision screenings, EyeQue Insight enables you to test your children’s eyes and your own eyes from the convenience of home as many times as you wish. Insight is the world’s first gamified 20/20 screener, combining a binocular viewer, a mobile application, and cloud-based service. Its random tumbling-E chart provides a simple and accurate measurement of an individual’s visual acuity, so you can check how well you or your children see without correction – and with current glasses or contact lenses. Click here to learn more about Insight.

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Does Staring at Screens Hurt Your Eyes? A Look at Expert Opinion

Perhaps when you were growing up, your parents limited the amount of television you watched because they thought it would hurt your eyes. It’s only natural then that you warned your own children to not stare for hours on end at their computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. So does staring at screens really harm one’s eyes or is this an age-old myth?

According to experts, staring at computer, tablet, and smartphone screens will not permanently damage your eyesight. Doing so can cause some bothersome side effects, most notably computer vision syndrome (also called digital eye strain).

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What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

About 83% of American adults use digital devices more than two hours a day, and 53.1% say they use two digital devices at the same time. Of course, digital technology exposure isn’t limited to adults. Children use computers and other digital devices for playing the latest games, watching videos, learning at school, or doing homework. In fact, 72% of Americans say their children look at computer or tablet screens more than two hours a day.

Many adults and children experience eye discomfort and vision problems from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cellphone use. The American Optometric Association says vision-related issues are the most prevalent type of health complaint among computer workers. Studies indicate 50-90% of computer users experience symptoms indicative of computer vision syndrome. Moreover, the level of discomfort appears to get worse the longer ones stares at a screen. The most common signs of Computer Vision Syndrome include:

  •    Eyestrain
  •    Headaches
  •    Blurred vision
  •    Dry eyes
  •    Neck and shoulder pain

In children, additional symptoms include reduced attention span, poor behavior, and irritability, all of which are counterproductive to learning.

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Prevention Tips

Often, the problem is not the screen itself but the immediate environment in which ones works.

  •    Set up computer screens so they are in the correct position in relation to your eyes. The top of the screen should be in line with eye level and placed about 18-30 inches from where you’re sitting.
  •    Tilt the screen back slightly – about 10 to 15 degrees depending on individual preference. Maintaining this downward angle reduces the stress on eye muscles and also helps prevent glares from ceiling lights.
  •    Balance the brightness of the computer screen to that of the room. Adjust desk lamps and window blinds so light does not shine directly on the screen. Glare screens can also eliminate this problem.
  •    Clean your computer screen regularly to avoid static and dust buildup. This can obscure screen clarity and cause eye irritation.
  •    To help prevent or alleviate existing dry eye, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Try lubricating eye drops before using the computer and throughout the day. Your eye doctor can recommend appropriate eye drops and may give you samples.
  •    Take the time to blink when you are looking at the screen. Doing so cleanses the eyes with naturally therapeutic fluids. In addition, follow the 20-20-20 rule by taking a 20-second break to view objects 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

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Test Your Eyes

Uncorrected vision problems (e.g. farsightedness, presbyopia, and astigmatism) can contribute to vision problems related to computers or digital device screens. If you have followed all of the above preventive tips and you or your children are still experiencing symptoms, an undetected eye problem may be partially to blame.

Proper vision correction is crucial on the job, in particular for complex and/or repetitive computer tasks such as data entry. A study showed small uncorrected refractive errors hindered productivity by 20%, even when the computer user didn’t notice symptoms. And if a child cannot see a screen properly, this can impede learning and lead to behavioral and developmental issues.

The EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker (PVT) enables you to take a series of pixel-powered tests to determine your refraction error. It is a safe, affordable, and fun way to test your eyes any time anywhere, as long as you have a smartphone connected to the Internet. While the PVT is not for children, the EyeQue Insight is an at home 20/20 vision screener for all ages. The Insight will provide instant results for single and dual eye performance and let’s you know right when you or your children are not seeing clearly as they should. Use these handy devices to help determine if prolonged screen time is causing your discomfort or an undetected or under-corrected refractive error is playing a role.

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