Many people participate in Vision plans, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HSA) through their employers. Many vision benefits and flexible spending accounts (FSA) offer benefits that expire at the end of every year. This means that if you do not USE the money by the end of your benefits year (usually December 31st) you will LOSE it. In most cases, unused benefits cannot be transferred over to the New Year (usually beginning January 1st). Most vision insurance plans entitle you to annual comprehensive eye examination and either an allowance or discounts toward eyewear or contact lenses each year. Have you taken advantage of these benefits this year? If you are not sure of the date of your last comprehensive eye examination, please call us and we can look it up for you.
Computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones and other electronic devices with visual displays all can cause tired eyes, digital eye strain, and computer vision syndrome.
Here are some tips that can help reduce digital eye strain:
Get a comprehensive eye exam.
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.
Use proper lighting.
Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright white walls a darker color with a matte finish. If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.
Adjust your computer display settings.
Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Generally, these adjustments are beneficial:
- Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this Web page. If it looks like a light source, it’s too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark.
- Text size and contrast. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
- Color temperature. This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term viewing comfort.
Blink more often.
Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.
Exercise your eyes.
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.
Take frequent breaks.
To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day.
Consider computer eyewear.
For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your eye care professional modify your eyeglasses prescription to create customized computer glasses. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses, which may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work. Computer glasses also are a good choice if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, because these lenses generally are not optimal for the distance to your computer screen.
Are you protecting your eyes from harmful UV exposure?
The sun’s ultraviolet rays pose a significant risk not just to your skin but also to your vision. That’s right. No matter the season, solar radiation can harm your eyes, and other components of those UV rays can lead to serious eye health and vision problems. Despite these health risks and warnings, only 40 percent of Americans cite protection from sun damage as their main reason for wearing sunglasses.
Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia and photokeratitis.
We recommend that you schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. Such visits are a good investment to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision, track UV protection needs and learn the latest advances in eye protection.
You can enjoy the great outdoors no matter the season or location. Just remember that sunglasses offer a simple solution to protect your vision from the harmful rays of the sun. Let us help you find your next pair of eyeglasses that provide the protection you need and the style you want!