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Computer vision syndrome: How it can impact productivity and performance at workplace or while working from home. By Dr. M Jafferji

It is hardly a debate that computer technology is the backbone of most businesses, and the corresponding use of desktops and laptops is on an upward trend. As a society we are also becoming increasingly connected to technology and are surrounded by the widespread use of internet-based applications and programs in our working and personal lives.

Employees who are required to use computers and/or digital devices on a full-time basis still need to be productive. Unfortunately, there are consequences to the heavy use of computers and digital devices. This is especially true during the current pandemic when many employees are now working from home and as a result are in front of their screens a lot more. Meetings are now conducted virtually using video-conferencing software instead of face-to-face, and many more tasks are being adapted so they can be done virtually, i.e., using a computer.

The consequences of heightened screen usage are more pronounced than ever before. One of these consequences is to our eye health and our musculoskeletal system due to repetitive eye and muscle strain. Even if the employees in your particular workplace appear unaffected now, eventually the majority of people with prolonged, daily exposure to computer screens will deal with symptoms, some of which can become severe, unless properly managed at the outset. The severity of the symptoms experienced will depend on a person’s visual perception, the number of hours they spend in front of screens, the workplace set-up which includes ergonomics, lighting and the environment.

Many employers neglect to realize the long-term effects of prolonged screen use on their employees’ visual and musculoskeletal health and the resulting impact on their employees’ productivity and performance. In other words, heavy screen usage directly and negatively correlates to productivity and the bottom line. Many employers simply do not realize that prolonged screen use is not just a health issue but a performance one. The good news is that there are simple, direct ways to manage it.

What is Computer Vision Syndrome(CVS)?

CVS is a term associated with the symptoms or consequences that individuals suffer from due to prolonged digital screen use and the repetitive stress it can cause on the visual and musculoskeletal systems. It is essentially a form of a repetitive stress disorder. Modification in the ergonomics of the working environment, employee education and proper eye care are crucial in managing CVS.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the most frequent health complaints among computer users are vision-related. Studies indicate that 50 to 90 percent of computer users suffer from some form of visual symptoms related to CVS. These symptoms include eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, eye irritation, blurred vision and double vision.

With more people using computers for long periods of time, CVS is becoming a major public health issue. The AOA reports that a survey of optometrists found that approximately 10 million eye exams are performed annually in the United States due to vision problems related to computer use.

A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry examined the relationship between the vision of computer users and their productivity in the workplace. Three important findings from the study underscore this relationship:

  1. There is a direct correlation between proper vision correction and productivity. This relationship is particularly evident with complex and/or repetitive computer tasks such as data entry.
  1. There is a direct correlation between proper vision correction and the time required for a computer user to perform a task. Computer-related tasks took much longer when the subjects wore glasses with less than the optimum correction.
  1. The study found reduced productivity even among computer users who were unaware they had vision problems. Computer users with small refractive error may not notice any vision discomfort. But without proper vision correction, their performance on a specific task can suffer significantly — by as much as 20 percent!

As eye care professionals we understand that businesses rely on employees to be productive and also perform optimally and a 20% drop as stipulated in the study is unacceptable for our standards. So, we decided to embark on this mission to alleviate CVS and help individuals suffering from it. The problem is most people that suffer from CVS already know that it is the repetitive stress of working on computers for long hours but rarely do anything about it. This isn’t because they don’t necessarily know what to do but need guidance on how to do it effectively. That is where we come in.

We first do a thorough oculo-visual assessment and determine if prescription eyeglasses will be necessary or not. Based on the findings from the exam we counsel them on the health aspect and how it pertains to their symptoms. We help them with their optical visual needs, and provide them with our unique, best-in-class, Self-Instructional Module to prevent and cope with symptoms of CVS. We also conduct routine follow ups with them to re-assess their symptoms, thereafter.

In the Self-Instructional Module, we provide employees with an in-office and at-home protocol to follow. The protocol runs on principles of habit formation and behavioural changes adapted from the teachings of James Clear in his highly acclaimed book, Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results and the Pomodoro timed application techniques. Ultimately, our goal is to build awareness and educate chronic computer users so they can become more productive at work by reducing the symptoms of CVS caused by this repetitive stress disorder.

To claim your module all you have to do is book a consultation with our optometrist and feel the difference…

How important is shut eye? A case of a young boy! By Dr. M Jafferji

It is no mystery that sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Most experts can agree that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, whilst children and teenagers need over 8-9 hours of shut eye.

Many of us are aware that our bodies heal from various ailments and fights infections by boosting our immunity while we sleep. The same is true of our eyes as well. When our eyes are closed, the eyelids fully cover the cornea, bathing it with moisture, and nourishing it with nutrients, antibodies, and immune cells that help fight pathogens.

Other benefits of good sound sleep are better productivity and concentration, lower risk of weight gain due to better calorie regulation, greater athletic performance, lower risk of heart disease, more social and emotional intelligence and lower inflammation throughout the body.

To illustrate the importance of sleep let me tell you about a 16 year old patient of mine. About 3 months ago soon after the lockdown I saw this young man who was complaining of burning, stinging eyes. His mother mentioned that he was up late at night on his laptop. Upon exam his vision was 20/25 in both eyes and the health of the surface of his eyes showed typical signs of dry eyes. One thing I noticed that every time I shined some light in his eyes he flinched. He admitted that he felt more sensitive to lights and hated the early morning sun. Otherwise, the health of his eyes was unremarkable.

I recommended that he refrain from using his laptop for the next two weeks at least one hour before going to bed, and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep. I also counselled him on developing good habits while using his laptop or his cell phone. This included taking breaks, blinking exercises, hydration, ergonomics, lighting, monitor set up, home eye therapy and outdoor time. I saw him again for a follow-up appointment one month later and he reported that he had taken “90%” of my advice and his eyes felt much better with no light sensitivity. In addition his mood had improved and he felt more energetic. Most of the dry patches on the ocular surface of his eyes had also resolved.

There are few takeaways that we can learn from this case. Sleep and night-time screen use just don’t mix. The use of digital devices in general can affect the ocular surface especially in people that have eye lid disorders such as incomplete lid closures, blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Another point is that repetitive, prolonged screen use at night can cause sleep deprivation and perhaps also shift a person’s circadian rhythm because of the effects of the blue light. My 16-year old patient proved that sound sleep, along with proper visual hygiene during digital screen use, can help in managing the symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain.

At Urban Opticians, our optometrists take the time to counsel our patients that suffer from symptoms of CVS including asthenopia/tension headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and intermittent blurry vision. We provide coaching on ways to habitually cope with CVS using visual and auditory cues. The only cure to CVS is to drastically reduce screen time or completely stopping it which may not be an option in most cases. As such it is important to implement these cues to form these habits because otherwise the likelihood of failure becomes perpetual as we can easily get engrossed in our work without realizing. To implement these habits in your work routine we have used the teachings from a book by James Clear called Atomic Habits to successfully help patients with these symptoms. Call us to book an appointment for an assessment if you work in front of digital devices more than 5 hours a day and experiencing these symptoms.

Reality of Digital Eye Strain By Dr. M Jafferji

We all can agree that the use of smart phones, tablets, laptop computers and the like are on a rise especially during this pandemic. As more and more of us are going virtual, at work or in our social lives, staring at screens for longer hours have become the norm. This in turn is cumulatively straining our eyes and our visual system.

Before I delve into a discussion of digital eye strain also known as computer vision syndrome, did you know that 50% of your brain function is dedicated to processing our vision and visual perception? This means that half the neural activity that takes place in our brain comes through our eyes, which gives us a sense of how critical our vision is and why we should not take it for granted.

Vision disorders are one of the main causes of learning disabilities in children. Many case studies on kids with various vision disorders have proven this point. Also many case studies of patients with brain injuries have shown how our binocular and peripheral vision is crucial in recovery. This being said when we spend more than half of our day staring at a screen it is reasonable to expect consequences. The reality is that our visual system is not designed to focus on digital screens day in and day out.

When it comes to eye fatigue and strain from looking at screens, there are three unnatural things that we have to realize we are doing. First, we are intentionally focusing on close objects for long periods of time. Our ancestors never used their eyes the way we do now. Our eyes are not designed to focus on close objects for hours on end; thus our visual system has to adapt to such circumstances. There is evidence now suggesting this is why myopia (nearsightedness) is on the rise among children across the globe, which is why we advise kids to spend time outdoors as much as possible. When we are outside, our eyes focus on close objects without requiring any effort or strain on the eyes. Any significant refractive error such as hyperopia/farsightedness or astigmatism can also place constant strain on the visual system. Another visual aspect that is important is our binocularity. Binocularity refers to how well our two eyes work together as a team to be able to focus effortlessly at a close object. Having adequate binocular vision is crucial for our brain to interpret what we are focusing on.

Secondly, when staring at digital devices our visual system is exposed to high energy wavelengths of light, which is known to keep us more alert and engaged. This in turn reduces our rate of blinking and also affects our sleep patterns when devices are used in the evening and night. Blinking is crucial in keeping our eyes moist and healthy as its function is to stabilize our tear film. During screen use our blinking rates can sometimes be reduced by fifty percent especially when playing video games. This can eventually lead to dry eye disease and eye fatigue. Lack of sleep can also contribute to strain as the ocular surface of our eyes rejuvenate when they are shut. (More on this on my next blog!)

Lastly our posture and neck position when sitting in front of a screen can also become unnatural which can lead to eye strain over time. Hunching over the chair, twisting your body, excessive tilting of the neck, raising shoulders when typing and looking at screens above our eye level are among many reasons to cause back, neck and eye strain.

When all of these unnatural habits work together for prolonged periods of time, digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, can become inevitable unless these habits can be countered by new good habits. The following list contains some of the good habits to adopt that can help reduce potential eye strain:

  1. Make sure to wear your prescribed computer eye glasses with anti-reflective coating. You can also add a blue light filter but this isn’t mandatory.
  2. Take frequent short breaks by looking at a distance for 20 to 30 seconds and alternative longer task breaks.
  3. Do blinking exercises every 20-30 minutes.
  4. Keep hydrated throughout the day.
  5. Position screen to avoid glare from overhead lighting or window.
  6. Ideally, the location of a computer screen should be 15-20 degrees below eye level measured from the centre of the screen.
  7. Seating position: adjust chair height so feet rest flat on the floor. Chair arms should be adjusted to provide support while typing, and wrists should not rest on the keyboard.
  8. Reference materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor.
  9. Muscles stretches after every couple of hours to release tension from back, neck and eyes.
  10. Get a good night sleep to sufficiently rest the eyes and body.

This list of habits is useful to prevent back, neck and eye strain, but it is not by any means exhaustive. Stress levels can also play a large part is your overall well being.

At Urban Opticians, our optometrists take the time to counsel patients suffering from digital eye strain. We provide useful tips and materials to help form these good habits and combat this problem. We realize digital device usage is a pandemic in it self and it’s responsible use needs to be addressed especially among our children.

Marketplace Frustrations for Eye Care Services and Products By Dr. M Jafferji and Mohamed Pardhan

With a plethora of optometrists and opticians, both chain stores and independents, in the GTA (and outside), shopping for eye care and eyeglasses should be easy and fun. However, this is not the case and it is very frustrating. Some of these frustrations include:

TRUST

Not being able to trust your vision care provider is the biggest frustration people experience. This comes down to first the eye exam part and the subsequent recommendations for eyewear. In pursuit of sales goals and profits, considerations such as time spent on the actual exam, or whether extras were suggested that were not needed come to mind. As far as eyewear is concerned, were more expensive frames and lenses offered or did the patients actually need what was being suggested. In lieu of such concerns, patients want to be able to trust someone with their eyes, their vision, and of course their pockets. They want to rely on knowledgeable professionals that they trust to give them genuine advice with their best interests at heart and also who will not gouge them out of their hard earned money.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

In today’s competitive business world, customer service is the key to the success of any business and a vision care provider is no exception. Customers want to know that they will be taken care of anytime, all the time. Customer service begins even before the customer has stepped into the business and continues long after a sale has been concluded. The entire customer experience must be guided with principles such as integrity, assistance and happiness for all involved.

CONVENIENCE

People want to make their lives as convenient and as hassle free as possible. They want to be able to get genuine professional advice on eye health and shop for eyewear at the same time and place, with minimum delay and for maximum satisfaction. Time is a precious commodity and aspects such as free parking, immediate appointment slots and fast turnaround times on orders are very much valued.

We here at Urban Opticians understand these frustrations and address them the following way:

We understand that TRUST does not come easy, however we believe if you truly care, empathize and educate people, a trusting relationship can be built. We set ourselves as THE most trusted advisors in the marketplace because of our unique team dynamics and experience:

  • First, we bring over 25 years of combined expertise in the fields of optometry and opticianry
  • Second, we closely collaborate with each other to give you the best possible vision because we understand the complexity surrounding it. See, when two professionals who share common values and work hand in hand towards a common goal, a more trusting and fulfilling client relationship is built
  • Third, we empower our clients with knowledge and with full price transparency so they can make their own informed decisions without high pressure sales tactics that we witness in our everyday lives

As far as CUSTOMERS SERVICE is concerned, we understand that people prefer to conduct business with other people that they trust and like, and not just a face of a company. That’s why we call our business a H2H business, meaning a Human to Human business. This being said, respect and integrity are our core values when delivering service to our clients. We truly believe that we as individuals live for the benefit, we live for the advantage, the enrichment, the protection, and we live for interaction we create in the lives of our clients. This really gives us a purpose in what we do for our clients which resonates with them.

Lastly, we give CONVENIENCE by positioning ourselves as a one stop optical shop that provides full value to our clients from outstanding customer service and experience to wide range of vision enhancing products with the full backing of an optometric office for all your eye health related concerns. Unlike any of our competitors we also give the convenience of communicating with us via text messaging 24/7 365. We also we offer speedy delivery on most single vision prescription eyeglasses and can also deliver it to you for no charge.

If you live in Thornhill, Vaughan, Richmond Hill or Concord and you are in the market for a new pair of EYES then be sure to come visit us and see for yourself how we deliver eye care, convenient shopping and an experience with professionals you can trust. We look forward to serving you soon!

The Advent of Anti-Fatigue Lenses and its Off-Label Application in Golf By Dr. M Jafferji

The game of golf has been an intriguing one for me. As a child and a teenager, I was never exposed to this game the way I was when my family migrated to this country over two and half decades ago. Once I started playing, I was almost instantly hooked. I was fascinated by the skill and concentration it required to improve your handicap. I began to appreciate the game even more after I graduated from optometry school as I was able to understand how and why having proper vision at all distances to facilitate precision eye hand coordination was so critical to the game. The right eyewear, especially for individuals who need prescription eyeglasses, was also equally important when playing golf.

First, what is presbyopia? Presbyopia is a naturally occurring phenomenon whereby we lose the elasticity of the crystalline lens in our eyes which usually begins in the 40’s. This lens is what helps us focus on close objects. When people lose this ability to see things up close, many will have to resort to reading glasses, bifocal or invisible bifocals i.e. progressives.

Until recently, progressive lenses were the only option for individuals who need prescription glasses to see at far, intermediate and at near with one pair. Many golf experts recommend against wearing progressive lenses while playing golf. The reason behind this is that the design of progressive lens is such that it limits the central vision and restricts the peripheral vision at distance, intermediate and at near. That being said, all golfers know how peripheral vision is critical when lining up to swing the club on the fairway, while putting, while chipping out of a bunker etc. Especially while putting, golfers need to move their eyes while maintaining their head position from the ball to the hole and vice versa. Progressive wearers can catch the distortion areas of their lenses while moving their eyes giving them a disadvantage while putting.

With the recent advent of anti-fatigue lenses, especially progressive wearers can now benefit from these lenses when playing golf. So how can these lenses benefit a progressive wearer on the golf course? An anti-fatigue lens is a type of a single vision lens with a boost in optical power on the lower bottom part of the lens. They are mainly marketed to relieve digital eye strain and for those in their early 40’s (pre-presbyopic age). The biggest advantage to this technology is that it does not have peripheral distortions like progressive lenses do. Instead of the lens having three focal points (like a progressive lens), an anti-fatigue lens has two focal points: the top part for the distance viewing and the lower bottom area for near objects. This power boost towards the bottom lower part of the lens can be tucked away without interfering with your distance vision while allowing to see near objects by simply tilting their head up. The boost in power can also be vertically adjusted as desired. With higher power boost now available, this opens up doors for many more golfers even above 50 years of age.

Picture1

Illustration showing the power boost in the lower bottom area for focusing on close up objects.

The off label use of anti-fatigue lenses in certain sports is promising. Any sport including golf that requires excellent distance vision as well as good intermediate and near vision poses unique challenges for individuals in their 40’s and 50’s who can greatly benefit from these lenses. In golf, clean crisp vision is essential in spotting the flag far down the fairway. Good intermediate vision is required while putting a 6 footer, and good close up vision is helpful when reading the map of the golf course, recording the score on the card or even just using your smart device while on the course. Anti-fatigue lenses can potentially allow golfers who wear full time progressive eyeglasses to shave off couple of strokes and therefore help improve their handicap and make the game even more fun.

Anti-fatigue lenses can come polarized to cut the glare from reflective surfaces for crystal clear vision, although there is some anecdotal evidence that this can affect depth perception. They can also be tinted in amber, brown or rose colour to enhance contract sensitivity which can be helpful in spotting the ball down the fairway. Equipped with properly fitted frames and anti-fatigue lenses, golfers can now confidently hit their stride anyway the winds blow.

Rules and boundaries to screen use in children By Dr. M Jafferji

As a parent, you find yourself struggling with screen use with you kids? Well, don’t sweat it too much.

During my 13 years of practice one of the most common complaints I get from parents is to do with their child’s screen addiction especially in boys. As an eye doctor and a parent of two boys I can totally understand the struggle we are facing at this time especially when children are literally home 24 hours and day during this lockdown.

Many parents are turning to mobile devices such as tablet and phones to occupy their children’s attention and I want to assure you that is absolutely fine as long as you keep boundaries and set some rule in place and make sure kids understand and follow them. Reinforcement will be needed on going basis on your part to maintain these rules.

Screen-based activities is basically a new form of near-work, and children who use devices tend to do so indoors for long uninterrupted periods with poor posture and at viewing distances closer than conventional books.

Here are some guidelines you can use to manage your child’s screen time.

1. Child must take regular breaks from screens.

Screens can be addictive and it is easy to lose track of long uninterrupted periods of absorption in their devices. Even though shorter more frequent breaks are advisable, taking at least 15 minute break after two hours of device use at a minimum is recommended according to Review of Myopia Management.

2. Child should maintain a healthy face-to-screen distance.

It is recommended to keep a distance of at least 60cm for computer screens and at least 30cm for smart devices such as phones or tablets.

3. Encourage good posture at all times when using devices.

Essentially you don’t want your child to be bending their necks downwards for long periods of time. You can set up a designated ergonomic space such a desk where the screen can be placed at a line of sight which is more natural.

4. Find At-home alternatives to outdoor activities and screen time.

Our home may feel deceptively void of fun activities to do with your children, so Creating a routine for your child is a useful way to ensure that their time is used productively and with purpose. This routine should include blocks of screen-free playtime. If independent play is a struggle for your child, set aside some time to engage in play such as storytelling, having a workout session together and even doing household chores together.

Whatever you choose to do with your child, remember to use these moments as golden opportunities to spend some quality bonding time. Our environment is filled with distraction including a continually vibrating phone in our hand or pockets. Sadly, the phone usually wins the war for our attention, and when this happens, we lose an opportunity to connect with the child. So I find best is to keep your phone away when with kids.

After all, being forced to stay indoors with your child may be just be the excuse we need to get creative and embrace quality time with them. I think, this may be one of the best chances we will ever get.

Snooker Glasses for presbyopes – An optician’s challenge. By Mohamed Pardhan

Definition:

Presbyopes – generally the over 40s in age, who struggle with up close vision. They may have perfect distance vision or may be either near sighted or far sighted as well.

During my younger days in England, I used to frequent a couple of well known snooker clubs where I would watch icons of the game compile century breaks with ease and finesse. I myself was able to conjure up forty plus breaks with considerable ease! Good times for sure.

I started picking up snooker a few months ago but due to COVID-19, things are on a hold. Well that was so up till last night, when a friend called me up asking for snooker glasses – I promised him a pair as soon as we were back up. Hmm, would make for an interesting article I thought, so here goes…

Snooker, as most of you know, or have seen on TV or YouTube, is a game played on a rectangular table, with a green cloth on it and table side pockets where the objective is hit coloured balls and sink them in the pockets with a cue stick – just watch any YouTube video and you will easily catch on.

In the interest of this article, we will leave out the option of contact lenses as well as ignore other factors which affect vision in a snooker club such as arena lighting, ambience and a smoke free environment.

A snooker table roughly measures about 12 feet by 6 feet and thus snooker players generally require good vision from about 18 inches to about 12 feet.

The challenge comes with players who are in their 40s and above. In these cases, their vision at a distance of 18 inches is different from their vision at a distance of 12 feet and up. Such players will need to be fit individually – a one size fits all approach would not work.

Before determining the snooker lens prescription, one thing to consider is only a semi rimless frame with low set arms and bridge or a full rimless frame (in my opinion) would work. This is because:

  1. When a snooker player is bending and forming a cue stance, his or her eyes are quite high up and so a much larger lens will be needed for the eyes to able to see through them. As the lens will have to be ground to a bigger size, these kind of frames can easily be modified
  2. The arms of the frames generally have to be lower on the sides to avoid excess lens at the bottom of the frame
  3. A pantoscopic tilt (tilting of the lenses) which is modified to be perpendicular to the snooker table is much more easily achieved to achieve better vision

I would take the following steps in determining their exact vision need:

  1. Interpret their latest Optometric eye exam readings – observe and make note of any amblyopic or aniseikonic issues (which have their own challenges)
  2. Determine the best frame, both from an aesthetic perspective as well as from a sizing point of view
  3. Observe their cue stance with the chosen frame on their face. Dot their pupil position when the client is in a stance position. This will be the Optical Centre (OC) height
  4. Using a trial lens set and the optometric prescription, determine their best vision for the snooker table
  5. In most cases that I have dealt with, I have been quite successful with a patient’s multifocal prescription corrected to an intermediate prescription (+/- 0.25D to 0.50D) and manufacturing a resulting single vision lens
  6. When manufacturing the pair of eyeglasses, the OC height and the Pupillary Distance (PD) measurements are very important for accuracy

Finally, the client must be encouraged to have lenses with a good anti reflective coating which makes the vision even clearer. A fitting session must be held for the client where an opportunity to troubleshoot any obvious or hidden errors may be taken.

It is possible that the product you manufacture may not pass the test the first time hence it is vital that during the needs assessment process, correct measurements and readings are documented. A redo, maybe once or even twice may be needed so do not be disheartened if you do not get it right the first time.

I hope you enjoyed reading this – any comments or suggestions will be most welcome through our email.

Face Masks and Foggy Glasses By Dr. M. Jafferji

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, wearing face masks is becoming more and more common. Individuals that wear prescription eyeglasses or protective goggle will undoubtedly have faced the annoyance of it getting fogged up while wearing a face mask. The science behind why our glasses fog when we wear a mask is fairly simple. As we wear our masks, warm breath escapes from the top of the mask and lands on the cooler lenses of our glasses. When that happens, it creates condensation, or fog. You may have noticed a similar effect when wearing glasses with a scarf in the winter, or when opening a hot oven door.

So how do I prevent my glasses from fogging when I wear a mask?

Here are some ways to keep your glasses clear when wearing a mask:

  • Improve the fit of your mask. Many medical masks feature a bendable metal strip that allows the wearer to mold the mask to their nose and cheeks. However, you don’t need a surgical mask to achieve a good fit. If you have a home made mask then you can sew a piece of bendable wire or twist tie onto the top of your mask. You also want to adjust your mask’s straps or ear loops. When the mask fits properly, most of your breath should go through it, not out the top or sides.
  • Tape your mask. Most doctors use tape to prevent foggy glasses while they work. To DIY it, tape your mask across the bridge of your nose and across your cheeks. You can use any type of tape, be it adhesive, medical, or athletic, just make sure you avoid duct tape. Test the tape on a different part of your body to ensure it doesn’t irritate your skin.
  • Pull your mask up. A simple way to decrease the amount of fog on your specs is to pull your mask higher on your face and use the weight of your glasses on top of the mask to block the flow of air. This method is more effective with large, thick frames.
  • Use a commercial anti-fog wipe or spray. Keep in mind that anti-fog solutions may not work as well on glasses with certain coatings, such as anti-glare, anti-fingerprint, or anti-smudge, and so it’s important to read the fine print on each product. A very good anti-fog cleaner balm that we recommend is from Liberty Sport.

Will rubbing soap or shaving cream on my glasses prevent them from fogging?

As more people struggle with foggy glasses, several home remedies have made the rounds, including treating glasses with soapy water, shaving cream, baby shampoo, or toothpaste. These solutions may have some merit. Washing glasses with soapy water and letting them air dry can help prevent fogginess because the soap acts as a surface active agent, or surfactant, and leaves behind a thin film that helps prevent fog.

Substances like shaving cream, baby shampoo, and toothpaste can all accomplish this, however, they aren’t widely used because they don’t last too long and aren’t as effective as other methods.

A Letter to our Neighbours! By Dr. M. Jafferji

Dear Neighbours, April 14, 2020

Just over a month ago everything seemed normal but then COVID-19 happened and turned many of our lives, upside down. Like myself I’m sure many of you have a new or renewed perspective on life. My purpose in writing to you, as an eye doctor and a health care practitioner, is to provide insight and hopefully reduce stress and anxiety during this challenging time. It will propel you through this pandemic knowing that you are prepared to the best of your ability and knowledge to face the potential consequences of this virus. If we can create some peace in our minds then our physical bodies will follow. This letter covers basic information about COVID-19, best practices and recommendations including specific advice on how to prepare for an infection if it does occur, and finally specific information about the impact of COVID-19 on your eyes.

COVID-19 BASICS

As most of us are now aware, COVID-19 is severe respiratory disease caused by a highly contagious and novel coronavirus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  1. Dry itchy throat and cough
  2. High temperature
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Red eyes/pink eyes with watery discharge

BEST PRACTICES AND HOW TO PREPARE

While there are plenty of recommendations on preventing transmission of COVID-19 in the first place like frequent hand washing, optimizing personal hygiene and physical distancing, there has not been a great deal of advice for what to do if you actually get it. The reality is that by the time this pandemic has run its course, many of us may have contracted it or may know people that may have got it. Mindset and preparation are and will be everything.

So, as your friendly neighbourhood health care practitioner allow me to make some suggestions. These suggestions are not exhaustive and individuals who have lung disease, chronic heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or are immunocompromised should undoubtedly take more precautions. In fact, they should stay mostly indoors and isolated as much as possible. The rest of us should start with the basics. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise to improve lung capacity should be on everyone’s daily to-do list. We are all aware that some level of preparation is necessary, but what kind of preparation?

Think of it this way: imagine that you know ahead of time that you’re going to get a nasty respiratory bug, like bronchitis or pneumonia. These are the key items you should actually buy and prep ahead of time (spoiler alert – toilet paper is NOT on the list):

  • Kleenex
  • Acetaminophen/ Tylenol
  • A generic, mucus thinning cough medicine of your choice (check the label and make sure you’re not doubling up on acetaminophen)
  • Honey and lemon can work just as well!
  • Vicks Vaporub for your chest is also a great idea.
  • A humidifier would be a good thing to buy and use in your room overnight. Alternatively, before going to bed just turn the shower on hot and sit in the bathroom to breathe in the steam.
  • If you have a history of asthma and you have a prescription inhaler, make sure the one you have isn’t expired and get a refill if necessary.
  • This is also a good time to meal prep: make a big batch of your favorite soup to freeze and have on hand.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Stock up on whatever your favorite clear fluids are to drink – though tap water is fine you may appreciate some variety.
  • For symptom management and a fever over 38°c, take acetaminophen rather than Ibuprofen.
  • Rest, rest, rest. If you are at all unwell you should not be leaving your house! Even if you are feeling better after a period of illness you may will still be infectious for fourteen days and older people and those with existing health conditions should be avoided.
  • Wear gloves and a mask to avoid contaminating others in your house.
  • Isolate in your bedroom if you live with others. Ask friends and family to leave supplies outside to avoid contact.
  • Sanitize your bed linens and clothes frequently by washing and clean your bathroom with recommended sanitizers.
  • You DO NOT NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL unless you are having trouble breathing or your fever is very high (over 39°C) and unmanaged with acetaminophen.
  • One major relief to parents is that kids do very well with coronavirus. They usually bounce back in a few days but they will still be infectious. Just use pediatric dosing for Tylenol.
  • 90% of healthy adult cases thus far have been managed at home with basic rest, hydration and over-the-counter meds.
  • If you have a pre-existing lung condition (COPD, emphysema, lung cancer) or are on immunosuppressants, now is a great time to talk to your doctor or specialist about what they would like you to do if you get sick.

COVID-19 AND YOUR EYES

While rare, COVID-19 can affect the eyes and cause follicular conjunctivitis. There have been reported cases as indicated in The American Journal of Ophthalmology where mild diffuse eye redness and watery secretions were the first signs to show in COVID-19 patients, especially in elderly patients. There is also evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in tears of COVID-19 patients with conjunctivitis (although infectious virus has not yet been cultured from the conjunctiva of any COVID-19 patient, so the transmission of the virus in this manner has not been proven).

Most importantly be calm and prepare rationally and your stress and anxiety will undoubtedly be manageable. Having a positive attitude and the confidence to beat this virus is crucial in keeping us sane. Through history humans have fought many pandemics and this too shall pass.

If you or your family show any signs of diffuse redness and watery in one or both eyes or have any other eye or vision related urgencies, then we may be able to help you as eye care professionals and first responders.

At Urban Opticians we are here to support our Thornhill, Vaughan and Richmond Hill communities needs and so we continue to accept patients with eye and vision related urgencies on a case by case basis during this time. Call us at 905-731-0341 on weekdays from 11pm-3pm, OR call/text us at 647-802-7863 after hours and on weekends. We follow strict PPE (personal protective equipment) and disinfection guidelines after every patient we see to prevent community spread.

For your health and safety always,

Dr. Murtaza Jafferji, O.D

URBAN OPTICIANS

20-9200 Bathurst St.

Thornhill, ON L4J 8W1

Email: urbanopticians@gmail.com

Website: www.urbanopticiansinc.com

Airline pilots and sunglasses By Mohamed Pardhan

Well, Tom Cruise looked great in his aviators in Top Gun, no ifs and buts about that. Just cool or do sunglasses really serve a purpose for pilots?

Pilots form an integral part of the economy, transporting people and goods all over the world. In uniform, smart and ready to do the job, the sunglass is, on almost all occasions, hanging from the front shirt pocket of the aviator. Our discussion here will focus on commercial airliners only.

Flight decks, or cockpits, are mostly of two types. The first is the normal instrument panel which consists of analog dials and gauges. These are found in older generation aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas DC 8, 9 and 10 as well as the earlier Boeing aircraft (707, 727). These may or may not be flying anymore in our skies as the retirement age of these classics is pretty much now. The latter type is referred to as Glass Cockpit, where aircraft systems and dials show up across a range of LCD screens spread out in the instrument panel. Modern jets across the board, including Airbus, Boeing as well as others, fit into this category.

For a pilot flying at altitudes of between 2,000 to 41,000 feet, the choice of sunglasses is an important one. The higher the altitude, the brighter the sun as cloud cover is nonexistent at higher altitudes. Given that cockpit windows have UV protection as well sun visors for protection, there are always instances where some UV light may penetrate through and sunlight will always pass through the glare shield and the visors, hence complete eye protection is only possible with sunglasses.The choice now, for our pilot friend, is between polarized and non polarized sunglasses.

Polarized sunglasses have a filter between the lenses, chemical in nature, which absorbs horizontal light waves. A horizontal light wave is mainly reflection and/or glare and hence a clearer picture is perceived by the wearer when wearing these polarized lenses. Non polarized lenses do not have this filter and are basically lenses with an added tint of choice of color. Note that depth perception and color is maintained in both choices of lenses.

Instruments in a glass cockpit run on the principle of glare. Information showing up on LCD screens is visible to the pilot because of glare that is emitted by them. Hence, if a pilot was to wear polarized sunglasses, he or she would not be able to read the instruments clearly. Secondly, aircraft bodies and windscreens, when in sunlight, give off glare. Again, polarized sunglasses will hamper the pilot’s vision in being able to see this off any aircraft, especially when flying under VFR (visual flight rules) in a busy airspace.

Which leads us to one conclusion only: Today’s modern aircraft are all equipped with a glass cockpit. LCD screens from left to right display vast amounts of avionic information for the safe passage of flight. A modern day pilot can only wear non polarized sunglasses.

What color lenses one may ask? Although all colors will do a good job of protecting the eyes against harmful light, there are colors which may be more suitable for flying. In my opinion as a part time aviator, I find the Gray color the best as it is a neutral density filter, i.e. distorts the colors the least. However, green and brown tints are excellent as well.

As far as material of the lenses is concerned, my preference is definitely glass. Glass lenses are the best for optical clarity and resistance against scratches, but not for UV protection. A layer of UV 400 protection coating must be applied. Plastic lenses and Polycarbonate lenses are also quite good and can be used anytime. Utmost care must be taken to make sure that lenses are UV 400 protected.

So next time you see a pilot wearing sunglasses, remember that there is a science behind it!