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Faculty Feature | 11/30/2023

Stop and Blink: Easy Ways to Take Care of Your Eyes

By Jennifer Persons

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In Episode 9 of MCPHS Bicentennial Podcast, The Secret to Living to 200, Dr. Joseph Stamm shares the simple things anyone can do to protect their eye health and avoid serious conditions.

Starting in the 1990s, actor and comedian Ben Stein appeared in television commercials promoting a product to relieve dry eye symptoms. Three decades later, Joseph Stamm, OD, FAAO, says dry eye has become a real issue because of the pervasive and unavoidable use of screens and digital devices in daily life.

Dr. Stamm became an optometrist because his dad was one. In practice with him and later in higher education, Dr. Stamm became a contact lens and dry eye specialist. But unlike the product promoted in those commercials, he says there are simple things anyone can do to prevent dry eye, and they don’t involve artificial tears or blue light glasses.

In this episode, Dr. Stamm describes the innovation he’s witnessed as an optometrist and gives helpful guidance on keeping the eyes as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Listen to Episode 9 and every episode of The Secret to Living to 200 here or anywhere you get your podcasts.

3 Things to Know About Eye Health:

1. Digital devices are causing a dry eye epidemic.

Blinking protects the tear film that coats the front of the eyeball. But when looking at a screen or digital device, blink rates drop by 75 percent. Dry eye occurs when the tear film dries out, causing reduced tar production. Not only is dry eye uncomfortable, but it can also lead to poor vision and trouble focusing. Dr. Stamm explains how consciously blinking and looking away from the screen can protect your eyes.

2. Follow the 20-20-20 rule.

With the explosion of digital devices, optometrists follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off the screen and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Dr. Stamm says following this method multiple times daily can prevent dry eye and other conditions. This rule may also help increase blink rates even when looking at screens.

3. There is no evidence blue light glasses relieve eye strain.

Dr. Stamm says no scientific literature supports the idea that blue light glasses protect your eyes or reduce eye strain. He also believes the amount of blue light people take in from screens is over-hyped. As far as improving sleep, Dr. Stamm says the best thing to do is put all devices away one hour before bed and/or use the dimming feature or “night mode” on a smartphone. These reduce the brightness of your screen and prepare your brain to sleep.

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