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Blue Light from Your Phone May Be Permanently Damaging Your Eyes

 Too much screen time can wreck your eyes.

Smart phones, laptops, and other handheld devices all transmit light. However, the blue light in particular may be toxic for your eyes.

Scientists at the University of Toledo may have discovered how blue light emitted from your technology has a potential to lead to macular degeneration — one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States.

“It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina” said Ajith Karunarathne, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Toledo’s department of chemistry and biochemistry in a released statement.

Macular degeneration is the result of photoreceptor cell death in the retina.

The function of the photoreceptor cells is to capture visual images and signal them to the brain using a molecule called retinal.

Retinal, which is produced by the eye, is triggered by blue light and causes various chemical reactions. These reactions within the eye can be poisonous to the photoreceptor cell molecules rendering them damaged.

When these photoreceptor cells die, there’s no regeneration.

Karunarathne and his team also introduced retinal to other cells in the body including heart cells, cancer cells, and neurons. When these retinal-infused cells were exposed to blue light they also died.

No change was seen when either blue light or retinal were used alone.

The team also exposed various cells throughout the body to green, yellow, and red light — and interestingly, no results were seen.

“The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type,” said Karunarathne.

Part of this phenomenon may be because blue light has a shorter wavelength in comparison to other colors, and as a result, has more energy. The extra energy can be the reason for this chemical change causing retinal-generated toxicity.

“Blue light appears to damage retinal cells. It is still unclear how much blue light and for how long it’s necessary to damage these sight-seeing cells. We do know the damage is irreversible,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Despite the discovery that the combination of blue light and retinal can damage cells, the experiments were conducted in a laboratory setting, not on eyes themselves.

Karunarathne and his team conducted the study to understand the mechanism and ability to which blue light causes cell death — they’re unsure if this occurs in the eye itself.

In a statement on his university web site, Karunarathne states, “We caution the public that our study does not show that light from mobile devises or other digital screens cause blindness.”

He continues, “Whether blue light from mobile devises and digital screens induces similar toxicity levels is an unanswered question and is currently under investigation.”

Although age-related macular degeneration affects people of all ages, it’s most likely to occur after age 60Trusted Source. However, experts suspect this may come sooner with the increased use of blue light technologies.

According to the BrightFocus Foundation, as many as 11 million U.S. people currently have some form of age-related macular degeneration. This number is expected to reach 22 million by 2050.

Worldwide, they expect it to affect almost 288 million people by 2040.

Protecting yourself may seem as easy as avoiding blue light — but it may not be that straightforward.

Not only does blue light come from our digital devices, it also comes from natural sunlight.

Also, certain situations such as using your technology at night can intensify the blue light as well. Transmitted blue light, especially in the dark, channels the light into a very small area inside of your eye.

One study author relates this phenomenon to using a magnifying glass in the sun — the light can become so intense and focused that it can burn your eye.

The blue light from these screened devices can also lead to dry eyes.

“Studies have found that with the increased usage of smart phones, iPads, and laptops, there has been an increase in the development of dry eyes due to a decreased blink rate,” explains Angela Bevels, OD, founder and owner of Elite Dry Eye Spa in Tucson, Arizona.

Over time, the more someone engages with their devices the less they blink.

“This in effect causes the tears to evaporate faster, leaving the cornea to dry out,” says Bevels.

To help fight this phenomenon, several technology companies have already created potential solutions.

Apple currently offers the “night shift” setting and Samsung offers a “blue light filter” to decrease the amount of blue light that’s displayed on the screen of the device.

Fromer recommends that people should “consider decreasing your time on these devices” and to “give your eyes a rest if performing extensive tasks on the computer.”

He recommends simply closing one’s eyes for a short time or gazing into the distance to help relax the muscle of the eye and reduce unnecessary strain.

Although this study is good information for those who are at risk of degenerative eye conditions, it’s yet another reason for everyone else to consider limiting their exposure to the screens — especially after sunset.

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How Long Can Eye Strain Last?


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Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, can cause pain and discomfort. Small adjustments, like taking a break from screen time and improving the lighting at your work station, can typically help your eyes feel better pretty quickly. For some people, digital eye strain can cause recurring discomfort.

Up to 90 percentTrusted Source of people who use digital devices may sometimes experience symptoms of eye strain. Some of them have severe eye strain due to prolonged screen usage. Let’s take a look at how long eye strain usually lasts and what you can do about it.

We don’t have a lot of good studies that show how long eye strain can last. According to the American Optometric Association, the extent of your discomfort may depend on other factors, such as how much time you spend looking at a screen, whether you are nearsighted, and whether you have astigmatism. If you have a vision condition that’s not currently being treated, that can also worsen your symptoms.

In general, eye strain doesn’t last for long. Anecdotally, it seems that digital eye strain will typically go away within an hour of your last interaction with your screen.

If your eye strain comes with other symptoms, such as headache, dry eyes, neck or shoulder strain, it might take a little longer for your symptoms to resolve.

Under normal circumstances, eye strain doesn’t take days to go away. If you have constant eye strain, that’s a sign that an underlying condition may be at play.

Once you look away from your screen, the pain and discomfort your eyes feel from eye strain may go away nearly immediately. If it doesn’t, try focusing on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, about every 20 minutes, to see if that helps.

If you’re reading this on a screen and you have eye strain, a good idea would be to look away when you’re done with this article! Taking a break from any time of screen interaction is important to give your eyes a break.

In short: No. Eye strain doesn’t typically cause long-term damage to your vision.

We should note that we don’t yet know what long-term exposure to blue light and extended screen time will do to your eyes. Children, especially, are growing up with more screen time exposure than at any time in human history.

We may learn more in the future about how our eyes are impacted from prolonged screen exposure. But at this time, there’s no reason to believe that eye strain will damage your vision.

There are other conditions that can be aggravated by too much time spent looking at a screen. Frequent eye strain that lasts for hours or days can be an indication that one of these conditions is present.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome can cause eye strain. When you have this condition, your eyes aren’t properly lubricated whether you’re looking at a screen or looking at something else. Dry eye syndrome can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription-strength eye drops.

Myopia

Myopia (nearsightedness) can cause your eyes to feel strained and tired all the time if left untreated. Eye strain that feels constant, or eye strain that doesn’t seem to be directly connected to looking at a screen, can be a sign of myopia. Contact lenses or prescription-strength glasses are the go-to treatment if you’re nearsighted.

Farsightedness

Farsightedness (hyperopia) can also cause eye strain. If you have it, you can see objects that are far away and have a harder time seeing things close by, such as books, phones, and computer screens.

Presbyopia

As people go through the aging process, they may develop presbyopia, a vision condition where your eyes lose the ability to focus on nearby objects. This change is due to the eyes’ lenses being less flexible with age. In addition to having a harder time seeing close up, you may experience eye strain.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is caused by a misshapen cornea. The lens of the eye has an irregular curve, which changes the way light passes to your retina, causing blurry or distorted vision. Blurry or distorted vision can occur at any distance, and you may have a harder time seeing at night. This condition can also cause eye strain.

Pain and irritation when you try to focus aren’t the only symptoms of eye strain. Other symptoms may include:

  • dry eye
  • headache
  • neck stiffness or pain
  • shoulder pain
  • blurry vision

If you’re experiencing significant discomfort, or if you suspect that there’s an underlying condition that’s making symptoms worse, you should make an appointment with an eye doctor.

Eye strain that occurs more than 2 or 3 times per week or that is impacting your daily work and life activities is a reason to get professional help. Your doctor may have some strategies or treatments that can help manage your symptoms.

Digital eye strain can cause temporary pain, burning, and some other symptoms. The good news is that true eye strain doesn’t tend to last too long. Taking a break from looking at screens will typically help resolve your discomfort within an hour or so.

If you have persistent eye strain, it might not be related to screen time after all. Speak with an eye doctor if frequent eye strain is affecting your ability to perform your daily activities.

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12 Reasons You're Feeling Dizziness, Ringing in Your Ears, or Pressure in Your Head


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Dizziness and ringing in the ears that interfere with your daily activities are also known by the medical terms vertigo and tinnitus. These symptoms can make it hard to work, relax, and even sleep. Pain and pressure in your head or sinuses can have the same effects.

These symptoms can sometimes be signs of minor issues, such as sinus infections or headaches. But when these symptoms are severe or won’t go away, they may need immediate medical attention.

Read on to learn 12 possible causes of ringing in your ears, dizziness, and pressure in your head, and what you can do about them.

When to get help

Get immediate help for the following signs, as they may indicate a medical emergency:

  • feeling faint or losing consciousness
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • sudden change in vision or hearing
  • bloody nose
  • dizziness that worsens over time or persists for several hours
  • headache that lasts for more than a day and doesn’t respond to over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
  • tingling or numbness in your limbs, especially on only one side
  • weakness in one side of your face or body
  • slurred speech
  • loss of vision in one eye
  • unable to stand or walk

Inflammation of your sinuses caused by infection is commonly known as sinusitis.

Short-lived sinusitis cases are often caused by viral infections, like the common cold. Chronic sinusitis may be the result of a bacterial infection.

The main symptoms of sinusitis are:

  • sinus pressure
  • thick, colored drainage from your nose
  • congestion
  • cough
  • fatigue

Home remedies

You can treat a minor case of sinusitis at home with rest, fluids, and OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Medical treatment

If your sinus infection persists, you may need to take antibiotics to treat it.

In some rare cases, chronic sinusitis results from polyps in the sinuses. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that headache is the most common form of pain. Doctors have identified more than 150 types of headache disorders.

Common headache triggers include:

  • poor posture
  • dehydration
  • stress
  • weather or changes in air pressure
  • drinking alcohol
  • bright or strong lights

The type of pain you’re experiencing can often tell you what type of headache you have. For example, feeling like a tight band is stretched around your head might mean you have a tension headache. Tension headaches are often caused by pressure changes or poor posture.

Home remedies

Rest and OTC pain relievers can often help with minor headache symptoms. You can also try applying a cold compress across your forehead or the back of your neck.

Other treatments may include:

  • managing stress
  • avoiding headache triggers, such as alcohol or flashing lights

Medical treatment

Some prescription medications may help prevent or ease headaches, including:

  • beta blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • methysergide maleate
  • antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • anti-seizure medications like valproic acid
  • dihydroergotamine
  • lithium
  • topiramate

Described by many as a “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus is often caused by damage to the middle or inner ear. Certain headache disorders can also cause a ringing in the ears.

Tinnitus can seem worse at night when you’re trying to sleep.

Home remedies

Distracting noises, including low-volume music or a fan, can sometimes make tinnitus feel more manageable.

Stress management and exercise may help, too.

Medical treatment

Biofeedback and antidepressant drugs may help ease tinnitus symptoms.

Hearing aids can also help if you’re having trouble with conversations and everyday sounds because of tinnitus.

Vertigo is a sense of dizziness that can feel like you or your surroundings are spinning.

Vertigo is more of a symptom than its own condition. But an inner ear disorder called benign positional vertigo (BPV) can bring on dizziness, nausea, and related symptoms.

Home remedies

If you’re experiencing vertigo, you can try resting or marching in place until the sensation goes away.

If BPV is the problem, you can learn exercises that are meant to restore balance within the ear. Talk with a medical professional about trying this therapy. They might teach you a head exercise to move the small crystals of calcium carbonate in your ear that cause BPV.

Medical treatment

Medications such as antihistamines and beta-blockers can help if your symptoms are severe.

Vestibular migraine is a type of migraine that doesn’t necessarily cause a headache but can cause symptoms such as vertigo and lightheadedness.

You won’t always know what causes vestibular migraine, but you can learn some of its common triggers. These include:

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • certain foods and beverages, like chocolate, red wine, and coffee

Home remedies

Stay hydrated and get enough sleep to help lower your risk of vestibular migraine episodes. Migraine triggers vary from person to person, so learning to identify and avoid your own triggers can provide further relief.

Medical treatment

Prescription drugs that treat migraine may also help reduce vestibular migraine symptoms, such as:

  • beta-blockers
  • triptans
  • anti-seizure drugs
  • calcium channel blockers
  • CGRP antagonists

Another condition that causes both vertigo and tinnitus is Meniere’s disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this condition affects more than half a million people in the United States. Meniere’s disease is the result of fluid changes in the inner ear.

Home remedies

Rest and stress management can help with the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. You can also try making changes to your diet to limit your salt and sugar intake, and prevent fluid buildup.

Medical treatment

Motion sickness and anti-nausea medications can help. You might also benefit from diuretics that reduce fluid levels in your body.

Your symptoms might also be caused by Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disease that affects your thyroid gland. Grave’s disease can trigger feelings of pressure behind your eyes.

Medical treatment

Antithyroid drugs and radioactive iodine therapy may help reduce your symptoms.

You can get a concussion after a blow to the head, or after whiplash, an injury that causes your head to move back and forth unusually fast. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that requires medical attention.

Home remedies

A doctor’s evaluation is critical if you think you might have a concussion.

During a concussion, rest and OTC pain relievers may help relieve the initial pain and disorientation. After a concussion, stay in a dark, quiet place, and avoid stimulation from lights and sounds.

Medical treatment

The only way to treat a concussion is to rest and avoid contact sports and other activities that may threaten the head. Your doctor will still want to monitor you for signs of bleeding or swelling while you recover. These signs might mean you need treatment for a more serious injury.

The thought of a tumor can be frightening, but not all tumors are cancerous.

For example, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor in the brain. While usually harmless, an acoustic neuroma can grow and put pressure on important nerves.

Medical treatment

Treatment isn’t always necessary, but radiation can sometimes help to shrink the tumor. This type of targeted radiation is called stereotactic radiosurgery.

Regular monitoring with an MRI scan is also important. This will make sure that the tumor doesn’t grow to a large size that can disrupt nerve activity and brain function.

An ischemic stroke happens when a blood vessel supplying blood to brain tissue is blocked or the arteries supplying blood narrow significantly.

An ischemic stroke is a medical emergency. Seek treatment right away if you believe you’re having the symptoms of this kind of stroke, such as:

  • blindness in one eye
  • double vision
  • feeling weak or paralyzed in one or more of your arms and legs
  • dizziness
  • vertigo
  • feeling confused
  • losing coordination
  • face drooping on one side

Medical treatment

During an ischemic stroke, tissue plasminogen activators are given to dissolve blood clots. Surgical devices also exist that can break up clots and restore healthy blood flow.

General treatment approaches to prevent ischemic stroke include:

  • oral blood thinners, such as aspirin
  • blood pressure control
  • lowering cholesterol
  • certain lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, losing weight, and increasing physical activity

An aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of a blood vessel. When an aneurysm bursts, the result is a hemorrhagic stroke.

An aneurysm is sometimes the result of high blood pressure. An aneurysm is much more dangerous than an ischemic stroke.

This condition must be treated as a medical emergency.

Medical treatment

Medications to reduce blood pressure and slow bleeding may help.

In severe cases, you may need surgery to repair the damaged artery.

According to the American Cancer Society, the chance for a person of developing a malignant brain tumor in their lifetime is less than 1 percent. In other words, it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

That said, regular brain scans are critical to detect brain tumors early on. This is especially true if you have a family history of brain cancer or are undergoing treatment for a cancer that may have spread to your brain.

Talk with a doctor if you have any concerns.

Medical treatment

Surgery is the most common treatment for brain cancer. If the tumor cannot be safely removed surgically, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be necessary.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source reports that an intense headache is a possible symptom of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a rare and unlikely cause of your symptoms. But this is possible, especially if you live in an area with major COVID-19 outbreaks and are not vaccinated.

A 2020 study in the Journal of Headache and PainTrusted Source found that headaches associated with COVID-19 tended to be:

  • long-lasting
  • on both sides of the head
  • resistant to OTC pain relievers
  • associated with loss of taste or smell
  • associated with digestive symptoms

Think you have COVID-19? Get tested!

If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 — especially if you are unvaccinated — make a plan to get tested by your third day of experiencing symptoms. Take appropriate steps, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and isolating yourself for at least 10 to 14 days.

Pay close attention to the signals your body sends you, especially when you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded, or feeling pain or pressure in your head.

These symptoms are often signals of conditions that could affect your brain function. Discuss them with a doctor if they happen often or continuously throughout the day or week.

If you can’t see a primary care physician, go to the emergency room or an urgent care center for severe symptoms or symptoms that won’t go away.

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What to Know About TruHearing

Hearing loss is common. It affects around 37.5 million adults in the United States.

Untreated hearing loss can greatly reduce quality of life, but only 1 in 4 people with hearing loss use hearing aids. There are many reasons why, but chief among them may be cost.

Hearing aids are expensive. The average cost of hearing aids is just under $5,000. And these pricey devices are also not a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression. Even minor hearing loss can increase the risk of falls and broken bones.

Conditions that may be made worse or accelerated by hearing loss include dementia and cognitive decline.

Despite this, most health insurance plans, including original Medicare, don’t cover the cost of hearing aids.

TruHearing is trying to even the playing field economically for people with hearing loss. Here’s how.

TruHearing pros

  • Hearing aids are significantly less expensive when purchased through the TruHearing website.
  • Every hearing aid type, including invisible hearing aids, is available.
  • There are hearing aid options suitable for severe hearing loss.
  • Hearing aids come with a 45-day trial and 3-year warranty.

TruHearing cons

  • Not every health insurance plan works with TruHearing. Since it doesn’t publish a list of its partners, you’ll have to do legwork to see whether your insurer has a relationship with the company.
  • If your health insurer ends its relationship with the company, your costs will increase on future purchases.
  • Not every model from every manufacturer is available.
  • If your current audiologist is not in its network, you’ll need to work with a new professional.

TruHearing is a third-party managed care company. Managed careTrusted Source organizations typically work to offer health services and reduce costs for consumers.

TruHearing works with health insurance plans to provide full-service hearing healthcare to consumers, including lower-cost hearing aids.

TruHearing partners with approximately 80 insurance companies, including:

  • Humana
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield

How TruHearing categorizes hearing aid options

The hearing aids available through TruHearing are categorized by technology level. Each level includes types of hearing aids, such as receiver-in-ear and behind-the-ear. The levels are:

  • Standard (least expensive). Good for predictable environments, such as your home. Features include noise reduction, Bluetooth, and charging capabilities.
  • Advanced. Good for noisier environments and for use when in motion. Features include motion sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) technology
  • Premium (most expensive). Good for the most challenging hearing environments, like parties and restaurants. Features include extended bandwidth and echo-blocking technology

The cost structure for your hearing aids will be determined by your insurer. In general, there are two programs that may be available to you:

  • TruHearing Choice includes hearing aids on the standard, advanced, and premium levels.
  • TruHearing Select is customized by your health plan. It includes hearing aids on the premium and advanced levels.

If your insurer doesn’t work with TruHearing, you can still purchase discounted hearing aids through its website.

According to TruHearing, its hearing aids cost 30 to 60 percent less than retail.

TruHearing aids cost from around $675 to $2,250 each. The company offers many hearing aids that cost less than $1,000 throughout all three technology levels.

Each hearing aid comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty that includes coverage for repairs. The warranty also includes one-time loss and damage replacement.

TruHearing has a free app for iOS and Android. You can use it to change your hearing programs, volume, and other settings through your smartphone. You can also use the app for virtual appointments.

TruHearing offers more than 200 hearing aids from manufacturers such as:

  • Signia
  • ReSound
  • Phonak
  • Oticon
  • Widex
  • Starkey

TruHearing also sells its own brand of hearing aids, which are manufactured by Signia.

Some hearing aids you’ll find include:

  • Starkey Livio Edge AI receiver-in-canal and behind-the-ear. These are rechargeable hearing aids that make adjustments automatically.
  • ReSound LiNX Quattro 9. It’s available in behind-the-ear, completely-in-canal, and receiver-in-canal styles.
  • Oticon CROS. These are budget-priced, rechargeable miniRITE hearing aids.

Each hearing aid comes with a 45-day, risk-free trial. If you don’t like your hearing aids, you can return them for a full refund and no additional shipping costs.

Hearing aids come with a 3-year warranty. Your warranty will cover repairs if needed, plus provide a one-time loss or damage replacement.

After 3 years, if your hearing aids are damaged beyond repair, you will incur some level of cost to replace them. Replacement fees vary by manufacturer, but typically range between $110 and $195.

TruHearing doesn’t charge shipping for hearing aids or batteries. There’s a $5 shipping free for hearing aid supplies, though.

TruHearing has an A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. BBB’s ratings indicate a company’s willingness to engage with customer complaints and service questions.

However, customers have complained about TruHearing’s billing. On the BBB site, customers note that coordination between their insurance company and TruHearing was lacking, which affected the way billing was handled.

On Yelp, TruHearing has positive reviews for cost and quality, but also complaints that are similar to those on the BBB website.

TruHearing works with approximately 6,000 hearing care providers, including audiologists and hearing aid specialists, throughout the country.

You’re assigned a hearing professional to talk about or determine the type of hearing loss you have and the kind of hearing aids that would be best for your needs.

Your first step is to call a TruHearing consultant at 800-334-1807. The consultant will check your insurance eligibility and let you know the costs you can expect to incur. They’ll also set up an appointment for you with a hearing specialist.

You’ll then get a hearing exam and fitting at your appointment. You can discuss hearing aid options that make sense for your hearing loss level and budget. Your hearing specialist will order your hearing aids for you at that time.

TruHearing will handle the paperwork, so you won’t have to submit a bill to your insurer.

After your hearing aids arrive, you have two additional appointments available with your hearing provider at no additional cost.

TruHearing is a third-party company that works with insurance providers to offer lower-cost hearing aids to people.

The company offers a wide selection of hearing aids for all hearing loss levels from major manufacturers. Your selection may be determined by the type of plan your health insurer has with TruHearing.

If your health insurer doesn’t work with TruHearing, you can still buy hearing aids through its website.

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