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Blueberries are Very Good for Your Eyes – As well as your Brain!

Finally!  Something that is widely available, reasonably affordable and yes, even quite tasty – is actually good for us!

Fresh BlueberriesHailed as the new “brain berry,” blueberries are being touted as one of the best fruits to have in your diet on a regular basis.  In fact, Dr. James Joseph, PhD and lead scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience at TuftsUniversity, states that when it comes to brain protection, “there is nothing quite like blueberries.”   The groundbreaking research of Dr. Joseph and others are demonstrating that a daily consumption of modest amounts of blueberries (about ½ cup), dramatically slows impairments in memory and motor coordination that normally accompanies aging.

Additional studies have also shown blueberries (and its European cousin, the bilberry) to be effective at:

  • Lowering blood cholesterol
  • Promote urinary tract health and reduce urinary infections
  • Improve night vision
  • Halt cataract progression
  • Protect against glaucoma
  • Suppress the growth of several types of cancer cells
  • Improved learning and memory skills
  • Slowing the brain’s normal aging process

So what’s in those tiny, dark-colored berries that makes them so powerful? 

After testing 24 varieties of fresh fruit, 23, vegetables, 16 herbs and spices, 10 different nuts, and 4 dried fruits, the US Department of Agriculture determined that blueberries scored highest overall in total antioxidant capacity per serving.

Remember, it is antioxidants (Vitamins C, A, E, the mineral Zinc, etc.) that are vital in countering free radicals – the harmful agents that can contribute to a variety of age-related conditions (like wrinkles) and many diseases, including cancer.  Additionally, blueberries contain anthocyanins (antioxidant flavonoid pigments) which are important for:

  • maintaining general eye healthBlueberry Salad
  • reducing inflammatory eye disease
  • reducing/slowing the damage from diabetes (diabetic retinopathy)
  • reducing/preventing damage from macular degeneration.

So, how do you go about getting more blueberries into your daily diet?

We asked colleagues, patients, family, and friends for their ideas and here is the list we have so far:

  • Add them to cereal, muffins, coffee cakes, etc. for breakfast
  • Blend them in smoothiesBlueberries & Cream
  • Eat fresh blueberries plain by the handful (like candy) – when they’re in season, they are very sweet and yummy!
  • Toss some into salads – one of my friends makes a great chicken salad with blueberries!  My sister loves blueberries with Romaine lettuce, candied walnuts and blue cheese.
  • Serve them in desserts like pies, bars, trifles and as toppings for ice cream, custard, etc.  I recently tried placing homemade whipped cream and berries in alternating layers in a pint-sized mason jar – which was a huge hit with family and friends. The mason jars also make these “mini trifles” very easy to store in the fridge, pack in a lunch box, or take to a picnic.

Lastly, the good news is that it doesn’t matter if the blueberries are fresh (organic is always better if available), frozen, canned or even taken in the form of a supplement – getting enough blueberries in any of these ways is all it takes to help your brain function better, longer — and your eyes to keep seeing and working their best!

Me with Blueberries at Brennan's Market          LEF Blueberry Supplement



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Posted in Eye Health, General Health & Wellness, Optometry, Vision

How to Improve Your Golf Game? Get an Eye Exam!

golfer puttingThink about what the average golfer spends on golf clubs, balls, shoes, gloves, greens fees, etc.  Some even go the extra step and attend workshops and clinics while others scour magazines, books, and watch DVDs – all in an attempt to knock a stroke or two off their game.

We’d like to suggest that a better place to start for most golfers (who want to improve their game) is with a good eye exam.

What’s that you say?  You see fine?  Maybe you do – but then again, maybe you don’t.  How well DO you see the slope and grass pattern of the green . . . hmmm?!!

Here are six things – from a vision perspective – that could dramatically improve your game.

1.   Are you seeing as crisply as you can?  Are you corrected to 20/20 or even 20/15?  New High Definition (HD) lenses eliminate many of the normal aberrations that occur in any optical pathway and can greatly crisp up your vision.  HD lenses are now available for eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses.

2.  Do you struggle to line up the sweet spot of the club with the ball on a consistent basis?  A comprehensive eye exam can reveal subtle ocular muscle balance issues (called phorias) which can cause the eyes to misalign ever so slightly.  While there may be no overt symptoms (like having an eye turn in/out or seeing double), having your prescription tweaked and/or learning a few simple eye exercises to do at home may be all that’s needed to get BOTH of your eyes pointed at the exact same place (i.e. the ball) at the exact same time.

3.  Do you normally wear a slight prescription for driving, but leave your glasses in the car and/or use non-prescription sunglasses while out on the course?  Again, that whole 20/20 thing is really important when it comes to golf (or any sports for that matter).

bifocals for golf4.  Do your glasses have bifocals in them?  Unless you are wearing special occupational bifocals designed specifically for golfers, it is likely that you are either not seeing the ball as well as you should OR you are holding your head a certain way in order to see through the top portion of the lenses. This can compromise the best stance/posture needed to swing the club most effectively.  Acquiring a separate pair of glasses that you use primarily for golf can make a huge difference – and does not have to be that expensive.

5.  For those who don’t need prescription lenses, do you still wear good, ophthalmic-quality sunglasses?   Or, have you settled for something you picked up at the department store or even discount retailer?  Not only do the cheaper, molded plastic lenses tend to distort vision, but the sprayed-on UV coating does not provide consistent protection much beyond the first few weeks of regular use.  Exposure to UV light has been linked to a much higher incidence of cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.

6.   Are your sunglasses polarized?  While most people believe that you should NOT wear polarized lenses while golfing, the latest information suggests that wearing top quality polarized lenses (like those found in Oakley, Ray Ban, Maui Jim, etc.) are actually just fine.  And, manufacturers like Oakley now make a specialty sunglass lens specifically for golfers –  the G30 Iridium Lens.  It is designed to help improve contrast sensitivity and, in particular, help golfers better read the curves and even the grass pattern of the greens.

So, what are you waiting for?  The weather is finally getting nice . . . go ahead and get that eye exam so you’ll be ready to take your game to a whole new level!

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Posted in Bifocals, Glasses, Golf, Optometry, Sports Vision, Sunglasses, Vision

Dry Eyes at Work? There’s a Fix for That!

If you read my last post, you know why your eyes may get more dry at work. So how do you fix it? Read on! Some of you may need to try only one or two of these suggestion while others may need to try several/most of them.

1. Quit your job and move to a tropical island. :) (Okay, only kidding on this one! Please, read on for more “practical” solutions.)

2. Insert your Contact Lenses about 30 minutes AFTER arriving at Work. One of the things that may help is letting your cornea/tear film “equilibrate” to the environment, make their own “self-corrections,” and then, perhaps, be better able to handle wearing contact lenses.

3. Try a Different Brand of Contact Lenses. Materials continue to get better and better with lens polymers being much more “friendly” to the eye in terms of physical comfort and wearability later in the day. Many patients are pleasantly surprised at what a difference a different lens brand can make.

4. Try a Different Type of Cleaning/Soaking Solution. While there are many reasons to choose name brand CL solutions over generic, this becomes especially important when you are experiencing dryness/irritation – particularly towards the end of the work day. Several of the major, name brand solutions have “extra” things in them to keep lenses cleaner and more comfortable throughout a 14+ hour day. Talk with your doctor about which solutions they recommend – and get samples to try your own “Pepsi Challenge” to see which brand, in fact, you prefer. RevitaLens, Complete, Clear Care, BioTrue, Pure Moist, etc. are all doing a MUCH better job of keeping lenses clean AND comfortable!

Biotrue  Clear Care  OptiFree Pure Moist

5. Make sure you RUB your Lenses at Night – Don’t just Soak ‘Em! Yes, many of the bottles are labeled “no rub” – and while there are marketing reasons for that, the reality is that lenses really DO get cleaner and stay more comfortable if the “rubbing/cleaning” step is done before putting them in with FRESH SOLUTION each night. Come on – it’s only an extra 4 seconds per lens to rub before rinsing – your eyes are worth that, aren’t they?!!

6. Try using Lubricating Drops. I realize that this may have been the first thing you have already tried. The big thing here is to try to do a “preemptive strike” and use the drops BEFORE your eyes are feeling really crummy. Start with a drop about 20 minutes before putting your lenses in. Try another drop mid-morning and mid-afternoon as well as right before bed (after you’ve removed your lenses). Again, “name brand” eye drops (designated for use with contact lenses) are most always going to be more effective than generic. And whatever you, do NOT use “get-the-red-out” drops like Visine!! These will only make things worse in the long run! Several of our favorites include Systaine for Contacts, Blink for Contacts, Blink & Clean, etc.

computer-eye-strain photo7. Give your Eyes Frequent Breaks while using a Computer. Blink. . . look away. . . blink some more. . . close your eyes for a moment. . . etc. Use a timer to remind you (every 20-30 minutes) to look away from the computer for 30-60 seconds. This should add some natural tear moisture/lubrication to your eyes on a regular basis. As an added bonus, this will also give the focusing system in your eyes a much needed break and possibly prevent an increase in myopia (nearsightedness). More on that topic at a later date!! :)

8. Try Removing your Contact Lenses Mid-day and Soak for 20-30 Minutes. Some people have found “re-moisturizing” their lenses helps keep improve the comfort for the second half of their work day. Not always the most practical option, but an option nonetheless.

9. Wear Glasses to Work – and Save the Contact Lenses for Home and Weekends. For some people, when nothing else has helped, the simplest option may be to simply not wear their contacts at work. While there may be practical as well as cosmetic reasons for why you prefer to wear contacts, the reality is that the environment may just be too dry for comfortably wearing lenses 7+ hours a day. The good news is that eyewear and lenses have gotten so much better – and the technology is making even the thickest of lenses look quite remarkable. Wearing glasses – especially well-made and properly fitted ones – is no longer the drudge it once was!

So stop struggling and start figuring out what will help you – and your eyes – feel better at work. You owe it to yourself!

Do you experience problems with dry eyes or uncomfortable contacts at work? Let us know what options you have tried and worked well for you. Leave a comment below!

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Posted in Contact Lenses, Dry Eye, Eye Care, Eye Health, Vision

Dry Eyes at Work? There’s a Reason for That!

hospital hallway“Doctor, why are my eyes only dry at work?”

All of us who are eye doctors get asked that on a regular basis. While some patients are able to articulate that their eyes feel “dry,” others report more vague symptoms like their eyes “don’t feel as comfortable,” or “their contact lenses seem to get a more filmy build-up” when they are at work than at other times.

And usually, when asked about where they work, patients with these types of symptoms often report being in health care facilities (especially hospitals) or office buildings. So why would these type of environments create problems – especially for contact lens wearers?

Over the years, we have found that there are there are several reasons why someone’s eyes may feel more crummy while at work.

  1. The Air is Drier. Especially in hospitals and newer buildings that are rigorously climate and humidity-controlled, the circulating air may simply be drier. Germs and bugs proliferate much more easily in humid conditions so, one of the ways health care facilities better manage the spread of infectious diseases is by keeping the air incredibly dry. And, while the humidity in office buildings is generally not kept quite as low as in hospitals, it typically is still lower – especially when there are a lot of computers and other equipment than are at greater “risk” when there is more ambient moisture.
  2. People Blink Less When Concentrating on Computers and Paperwork. Yep, everyone blinks less when they are concentrating on their computers, smart phones, Ipads and tablets – as well as if they are working through mounds of traditional paper-based work.
  3. There are “Things” in the Air. Okay, conspiracy theory folks, I’m not talking about X-Files kind of stuff here. But, what we have seen is that sometimes – especially in buildings where windows are not routinely opened, the air QUALITY may contain things that aggravate the eyes. Older buildings may have mold and dust build-up in their ductwork. Newer buildings may be so energy efficient that the building doesn’t “breathe” – and newer carpets, wall coverings, etc. may be emitting subtle, undetectable chemicals/fumes into the air. We don’t smell it – but our eyes – and especially our contact lenses – may feel it.

So, what are someone’s options when they are experiencing uncomfortable dry eyes at work? Check back for the next post where I’ll share my tips to keep your eyes from feeling dry.

Do you have any tips while I write? Share in the comments below!

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Posted in Contact Lenses, Dry Eye, Eye Care, Eye Health, Vision

Non-glare, Anti-Reflection (AR) Lenses – Help or Hype?

Patients often ask us if Anti-Reflection-coated “AR” lenses really make a difference when it comes to prescription eyewear – and the answer is a resounding “Yes!!” Not only does AR coating dramatically improve the cosmetic look of the eyewear, the vision through AR lenses is far crisper. Let me explain. . .

When an AR (anti-reflective) coating is applied to lenses, it allows 4-10% more light to travel thru the lens, rather than be reflected off of the front and/or back surface.

More light = Improved Night Vision

Headlight_GlareThe extra light that reaches the retina gives everything you see an added definition or “crispness” – kind of like looking at an HD digital television image versus an old-school box TV. AR lenses also dramatically reduce glare – particularly when driving at night or while working on a computer. Many people report far less computer eye strain when wearing AR coated lenses.

Less Reflections = Better Appearance

AR_coated_Lenses_-_woman_with_reflections_on_lensesAdditionally, because the AR coating causes almost no light to reflect off of the lens surface, the lens becomes practically “invisible” – giving a MUCH better cosmetic appearance for the person wearing AR coated lenses. While AR lenses are the “industry standard” for performers, broadcasters, public speakers, etc., I recently saw a young reporter wearing glasses that did NOT have AR on their lenses. While they probably saved a few bucks (and maybe didn’t know any better), their eyewear became a distraction and was rather unprofessional and unpolished.

Basic versus Premium AR

Years ago, the earliest versions of the AR coating were quite delicate and needed quite a bit of care. The lenses smudged easily and often times, the coating would begin to craze or flake off.

Today, most anti-reflective lenses are much better when it comes to handling characteristics. Premium AR lenses have all the “bells and whistles” you would want in a lens: not only do they provide the added crispness in vision and fantastic cosmetic appearance, they are extremely hardy and very easy to care for. If cost is a consideration, Basic AR lenses provide the advantages of both improved cosmetics and vision, while being less expensive. The trade-off is that the Basic AR lenses will need to be handled and cleaned more carefully – and can be more susceptible to smudging, scratching, etc.

Back-Coated AR Lenses for Sunglasses

When manufacturers first began coating the back surfaces of ophthalmic quality sunglasses, I was skeptical that it could make that big of a difference. Boy, was I wrong!

For years I have worn traditional prescription polarized lenses and always thought that I was seeing both clearly and comfortably in these lenses. A few months ago, I had a “Ralphie” moment (A Christmas Story) where the glasses fell onto the floor and, before I knew it, my beloved prescription polarized sunglasses had become smashed beyond repair. Reluctantly, I started to look for a new pair of glasses and, much to my surprise, am seeing much better – and MORE COMFORTABLY – with my brand new prescription Maui Jim sunglasses! When I put them on for the first time, it was a feeling of “ahhhhh!” It is hard to describe but I have now experienced first hand just how good this technology is – and how important back surface AR is on sunglasses – both prescription and non-prescription plano sun.

So, what experiences have you had with Anti-Reflective lenses? Feel free to share your comments below!

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Posted in Glasses, Optometry, Vision