Eye Strain With Dr. Anshel: Part 3 of 3

Show Notes: Our Sponsor As Always, Sellry.com Gunnar Computer Glasses Smart Medicine For Your Eyes Ocular Nutrition Handbook Dr. Anshel’s Website Transcripts: Creighton: Hello and welcome to the Ecommerce Q&A Podcast. My name is Creighton and I will be your host. Today we’re joined by Dr. Anshel, optometrist and fellow of the American Academy of […]

July 17, 2017 14
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Show Notes:

Our Sponsor As Always, Sellry.com

Gunnar Computer Glasses

Smart Medicine For Your Eyes

Ocular Nutrition Handbook

Dr. Anshel’s Website


Creighton: Hello and welcome to the Ecommerce Q&A Podcast. My name is Creighton and I will be your host. Today we’re joined by Dr. Anshel, optometrist and fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He’s also the founder and past president of Ocular Nutrition Society, as well as the current president of Corporate Vision Consulting. Dr. Anshel, how are you doing today?


Dr. Anshel: Doing great. Thanks for having me.


Creighton: Yeah, absolutely. This is the third part of a three part series on eye strain, particularly eye strain caused by computer monitor or active computer monitor usage. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been working with eye health and in particular eye health around, you know, computer usage?


Dr. Anshel: I’ve been in the industry for 40 years. Graduated optometry school in 1975 in Chicago, and been in San Diego since then. I moved out to San Diego right afterwards in the Navy. Back in the late ’80s, early ’90s I had a practice near a university where patients were coming in with these unique types of problems that I didn’t expect to see in people their age.


They were having eye strain issues, and dry eyes, and just having different types of different vision problems, it didn’t fit the typical patient at that demographic. When I found and realized it, a lot of these people were spending a lot of time on computers. This was a new thing at that time. I realized that maybe there’s something with the computer use that is causing these problems. So then I started looking into it and I got hooked up with a colleague of mine up in the University of California Berkeley, who was running a computer vision lab. We started working together on trying to resolve some of these problems.


Creighton: That’s great. When did you really realize that monitor usage or heavy monitor usage was having a significant impact eye health, integrating eye health.


Dr. Anshel: Well, what we found is that at the time, people were looking at either black screens with white letters on it or black screen with orange or violet letters on them, the magenta. We found that the technology of computer displays, number one, was not that, you know, the old dot matrix type of letters. The visual system had trouble resolving those. The edges were not so sharp, so it was more difficult to see and people were over-focusing. Their focusing was kinda going back and forth, and doing some weird things.


In addition that people were doing more and more of this work, and actually it’s one of the issues we’re having today, is that fact that while the images are better that they’re looking at, we’re looking at computers for pretty much everything. It’s more of a time issue right now. We’re maintaining our vision at a close viewing distance for longer and longer periods of time and not giving ourselves those breaks that we need to get our distance vision back and get our eyes more comfortable.


Creighton: Right. It’s interesting you bring up initially the colors and sharpness of text. Do you think as time has gone on, people have become more aware of better text or color, better sharpness, or in general, better policies on what kind of website design or page, text shape they should be looking at? Or, have people kind of been ignoring that and just been making what looks good?


Dr. Anshel: Well, yeah. It kinda depends on who we’re talking to, because I talked to monitor manufacturers and the technology has improved. I mean, take the retina display for example, while it’s just a catchy name, it has nothing to do with the retina itself in the way it works, but it is a pretty decent quality image.


That part of it is good, but there’s still the fact that there’s a little bit of flickering going on there that may affect the visual system that people don’t realize. There’s also the color issue. Monitor manufacturers say that they’re able to generate 1.6 million colors on the computer display, but the visual system can only perceive about half of those.


Creighton: Right.


Dr. Anshel: So, there’s a disconnect between those two. Of course, people like to have these colors on their display, but when they’re reading text, the main issue that they need to look at is, what is the contrast between the letters and the background? That will distinguish how well the letters stand out so they can see them better.


Because they have so many colors to work with, they may not be working with the best color combination in general. I’m kind of sorry to say this, but the best color combination is black letters and white background. Kinda boring, but that’s the best to see the images.


Creighton: Okay. Fantastic. Are there any tools that you know of, software or hardware, people are using now that you’d recommend?


Dr. Anshel: Actually, because we’re using mostly the flat panel displays now instead of the old CRT monitors, the images have gotten better mainly around the glare issue. You gotta remember, we’re looking through a piece of glass now and glass is reflective. People at that stage were having a lot of glare off the screen and they were having to move around, or over-focus, or under-focus, trying to get around the glare images.


It is much better now, but there is still some glare issue going on there. It’s much less obvious for people. Especially actually when people are using touch screen monitors, because every time they touch the screen, they’re getting oils from their hands onto the monitor itself. Now were seeing its degrading the image, so the dirtier the monitor, the harder it is to see that image. In general, again, the technology’s getting better, but were just looking at them all the time.


The two things that I like are, number one, are privacy screens and being in the healthcare industry, we need these in the offices to be HIPPA compliant so that medical information is passed around. These are screens that allow you to see the image clearly straight ahead, but looking off to the side it looks black or disappears on some level. Those are good to have.


People need to check for glare in the workplace to see if there’s lights that are shining into their eyes. I’ve gone in many workplaces where people are looking at the screen, but there’s lights around the screen that are shining right into their eyes and that’s gonna be a glaring problem, pardon the pun.


There are computer glasses that are available. Now, that’s a general generic term, but there are some glasses that are made specifically for computer use. Actually, I was on the development team for this company called Gunnars and we developed these lenses that help people maintain moisture because they’re not blinking enough. Also, to knock out the blue glare that comes out of the screen, so people get a little sharper image and put a little bit of power in there to help sharpen up the image a little bit.


I recommend the Gunnar glasses. Also, making sure that the text is large enough on the screen that people aren’t having to lean forward and see it, you know, they have to be in a comfortable viewing posture, mostly for the glare in the workplace. That’s one of the biggest issues.


Creighton: Okay. It sounds like there’s some things that we can use to improve or actually improve the quality of the image or light that’s going into our eyes to help extend moisture in there as well as coloring differences. What are some good eye practices though, in general, for looking at a monitor? What kind of breaks should you take? What are some good practices?


Dr. Anshel: I’ve narrowed it down to the three B approach. Blink, breath, and break. Now, I’ll tackle the breathing first, because that’s kinda the most important. We’re under stress, have deadlines, and they have to get these papers done or get some projections in, or whatever, people tend to hold their breath. That reduces oxygen to the brain, and makes you tired, and messes everything up.


Blinking is also very important, because we’re staring more at the screen and typically the computer screen is higher than reading material is. Our eyes are opened wider and we’re blinking less often. There are studies that confirm that. We need to remember to blink often and fully.


The third thing is taking breaks. Now, in the breaks, I’ve developed the 20-20-20 rule. That is, every 20 minutes, just take about 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. Now, that lets your eyes relax and the 20 minutes, it’s been shown that more frequent breaks are better than waiting a couple hours and taking a longer break. That’s why the every 20 minutes for just 20 seconds to let your eyes relax. Now, if you’re near-sighted or have any other vision problems, it’s not necessarily gonna reverse those, but it will help reduce eyestrain for people looking at computers on a regular basis.


Creighton: That’s a great rule. I’ll have to keep that in mind.


Dr. Anshel: Everybody does and it’s easy to remember.


Creighton: Yeah.


Dr. Anshel: Especially coming an eye doctor talking about 20/20 vision.


Creighton: Right. That’s fantastic. The next question I have for you is something that people are always talking about. I’m always hearing that you gotta eat carrots. Carrots are the best things for your eyes. I’m really interested in what I can do differently in my diet to improve my eyes, but are carrots the Holy Grail? Is that something that’s really good for your eyes?


Dr. Anshel: Well, that’s what your mom tells ya, right?


Creighton: Oh yeah.


Dr. Anshel: Eat your carrots, [inaudible 00:09:24] be good for your [inaudible 00:09:24]. Get it on paper, it looks good because carrots have beta carotene and beta carotene is a type of carotenoid. It will convert in the body to vitamin A. Vitamin A is the actual molecule in the retina that converts light energy to nerve energy to start the visual process. It kinda makes sense if you have beta carotene that converts to vitamin A, you have more vitamin A in your retina, you’ll see better. Not so fast.


Beta carotene, number one, is a good antioxidant and eating carrots is good for you. You don’t want to get too much in there. Number one, we don’t convert that beta carotene as readily as when we get older. It’s not that easily converted because we age. Also, if your body has enough vitamin A and most people in the U.S. have enough vitamin A stored in their livers. Now, if we’re talking some African third world nation or something like that, that’s a different story, but in the U.S. for the most part, people have enough vitamin A stored and their liver.


There’s no reason for the body to convert more beta carotene to more vitamin A. It just won’t do it. Lastly, beta carotene and two other carotenoids, which are lutein and zeaxanthin, they’re all in the carotenoid category. Now, beta carotene though, is the dominant one. If we eat too much beta carotene, for example, in your supplements, a lot of times you’ll see vitamin A as 100% as a beta carotene. This overdoses beta carotene and it will keep lutein and zeaxanthin from getting to the eye. The two carotenoids that are in the eye are lutein and zeaxanthin and these are prominent in our diet. So, where are they? The number one source is kale and yes, kale is now the poster child for healthy eating. And also spinach.


The third most logical place to get it is actually egg yokes. The yokes are yellow because of the lutein and zeaxanthin and them. That’s very important. While a lot of people may be afraid of egg yokes because of cholesterol, the fact is, only 25% of our cholesterol comes through our diet, most of it’s made in our … anyway. I don’t tell people to shy away from egg yokes on a regular basis. They should be having some eggs every day. It’s very bio-available, it’s a very good source of lutein and zeaxanthin.


Creighton: Okay. That’s really interesting. That’s fantastic. I’ll keep a list somewhere where I’m eating to remember. Egg yokes. Okay. That’s good.


Dr. Anshel: Eat your greens and your egg yokes.


Creighton: That’s good.


Dr. Anshel: That’s the…


Creighton: That’s a little bit more fun than just carrots. love carrots. Carrots are fantastic.


Dr. Anshel: Carrots again, they’re good, they won’t hurt you and you’re probably eating … a bunch of carrots won’t hurt you, because, …enough to get that beta carotene out of … gonna really affect. It’s the carrot juice, and the cooked carrots, and the supplements that are the real problems there.


Creighton: Interesting. Well, I think that wraps us up for our general questions. I’d really like to hear a little bit more about you and your personal practice for people who are looking for more consulting or information on this. Where can people find you?


Dr. Anshel: Well, number one, they can find me on Amazon, because I’ve written several books. The last two are the most popular. One is called Smart Medicine for Your Eyes and the other one is called The Ocular Nutrition Handbook. They both have nutrition in there, but the first one is a more general book about everything about eyecare. Smart Medicine for Your Eyes covers everything.


The Ocular Nutrition Handbook is a little bit more technical, more for interested consumers or healthcare practitioners. Those are both available on Amazon. Also in private practice in Encinitas, California, which is about 20 miles north of San Diego. Love being here, I’ve been here for most of 40 years. I do lecture nationally on the computer vision and nutrition topics.


Creighton: We’ll include those book links as well as a link to your website down in the description in the footnotes, which, if you’re viewing on iTunes or Stitcher, you can find it at ecommerceqa.tv. The footnotes there will include links to those books and links there. Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Anshel. I’ve really appreciated having you on the show today.


Dr. Anshel: My pleasure Creighton, it’s good being with you.


Creighton: Thank you.


Dr. Anshel: Thanks.


Creighton: For all of our other viewers, subscribe to iTunes if you’ve enjoyed the show and please leave us a five-star review on iTunes if you like it. The show notes, once again, can be found at ecommerceqa.tv. If you do have any questions or comments, please send us a message [crosstalk 00:13:58] comcast at sellery.com, celery, S-E-L-L-E-R-Y.com or you can give us a call at 866-8SELLERY. Thank you very much.