Archive for the ‘Eye Care’ Category
We here at Zenni have written about optical illusions extensively (see here, here, and here). However, it’s not just humans whose eyes can play tricks on itself. Computers can be tricked too, a new study finds.
Each computer model was shown a pair of lines, one longer than the other, and each line had both an arrowhead and an arrow tail or an X at both ends. The computer model then had to guess which line was longer. Over time, the researchers were able to train the system, named HMAX, to correctly identify the longer line 90 percent of the time.
Testing like this can result in something that sounds a bit like what a mad scientist would do; as researcher Astrid Zeman told LiveScience, “If we think of this visual system as something we implant in a robot, this means that we can grow whole bunch of robots up in different environments. Then, once our robots have matured and have learnt to see things, we can then smash their brains open to see what they are thinking. This is something that we can’t quite do with humans.”
The second part of the study showed a pair of lines to the computer system, but this time the top line always had two arrow tails and the bottom always had two arrowheads. For humans, if both lines are the same length, we are duped to believe the top line looks longer. And the study showed that the computer system was also duped around 1.6 percent of the time.
With a finding like this, the researchers are able to eliminate previously believed explanation for this illusion in humans—was it our brains misinterpreting the arrowheads and arrow tails as depth cues? Or do we focus more on overall information about shapes than their elemental parts? These findings show, as LiveScience wrote, that it may result simply by how our visual system processes information that requires further elucidation.
“If we build robots with artificial brains that are modeled off our brains, the implication is that these robots would also see illusions much like we do,” Zeman added. “By imitating the amazing accuracy, flexibility, and robustness that we have in recognizing objects, we could also be copying potential errors in computation that manifest in visual illusions. … These illusions bring to light new questions about how we perceive the world and the assumptions we make about the world.”
Monday, April, 8 2013 by Justin Alvarez
If you’ve ever applied for a driver’s license, you probably recall the eye examination. The process typically involves disclosing any vision issues and then reading letters off an eye chart, though each state has its own eye testing regulations. Planning on getting or renewing your license anytime soon? Read on for some info and tips on taking a DMV eye exam:
Driver’s Eye Exams
All states require individuals to take an eye exam as a condition for receiving a first driver’s license, though some states don’t require a vision test when a driver renews his license. States generally provide eye testing at driver’s license facilities, though some states will accept a doctor’s certificate showing that you’ve recently passed an eye exam. State driver’s license agency websites usually contain information on the eye testing process, as well as tips for passing the test. Be sure to bring your eyeglasses to the testing site, as you may not be able to even attempt the test without them.
Some states require elderly drivers to undergo more frequent vision examinations: If you live in such a state, it’s important to pay attention to the testing schedule so that you don’t inadvertently allow your driver’s license to lapse.
States often issue restricted licenses to individuals who have visibility problems. The terms of these restricted licenses vary, but may require the driver to wear corrective eyewear while driving, or may limit driving to daylight hours. Individuals who do have visibility issues, may also have to undergo additional eye testing by an optometrist or medical doctor and may also have to complete a special driver’s education course.
Assistance for Drivers With Visual Impairments
In addition to providing driver’s education programs for individuals with poor eyesight, individuals who can’t qualify for a driver’s license because of low vision may qualify for certain public transit benefits, including reduced fares and even para-transit services, which provide on-call transportation in areas that are otherwise under-served by public transportation systems. If your eyesight prevents you from driving, ask your local public transit company for details on its services for the disabled.
Preparing for a Driver’s Vision Test
Just as consumer advocates encourage job seekers to check their credit before applying for work, it may be a good idea to have your eyes checked before making the trip down to the DMV. Not only will you avoid the annoyance of failing an eye test, and then having to go see an eye doctor anyway, but you’ll also be able to talk to your doctor about your vision concerns, as well as receiving on-the-spot counseling and information about any problems revealed by the exam.
Don’t let passing a DMV vision test give you a false sense of security: As the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet notes, reading the Snellen eye chart is just one aspect of a thorough, clinical eye exam. It is possible to pass the eye exam and still have an undetected eye disease that could cause or contribute to future vision loss. Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, it is generally a good idea to have your eyes checked every two years.
Tuesday, April, 2 2013 by Lainie Petersen
According to the American Academy of Opthamology, there may be a connection between the amount of natural light children get and nearsightedness. Eye health studies have indicated that an inability to see from a distance, which is called myopia or nearsightedness, is increasingly becoming more common. In the United States, the number of nearsighted children has increased steadily for the last four decades. In the 1970s, 25% of American children were nearsighted, while today, the number is closer to 40%. In some Asian countries, the figure of myopic kids is as much as 80%.
Eight key research studies, done with more than 10,000 participants, found that every hour that a child spent outside each week cut his or her risk of developing nearsightedness by 2%. The researchers, which included Dr. Justin Sherwin and his team at the University of Cambridge, discovered that kids with myopia didn’t spend as much time outdoors as their more eagle-eyed counterparts. The actual activities done outside, whether the children were playing sports, walking or even just sitting, didn’t seem to affect the outcome, so it’s thought that natural light is the important factor in reducing kids’ risk of nearsightedness. A study in conducted in China with 80 myopic children aged 7-11 who spent at least 14 hours a week outdoors, found after two years that many of them were less nearsighted than they were originally. Also, a similar study in which the children spent 14 hours a week inside doing close up activities such as crafts, reading and computer games, found that this indoor time did not improve their nearsightedness. More studies are being done to test the age old myth that bookworm people who spent more time indoors are more prone to myopia, or have increased levels of nearsightedness, than those who spend more time outside.
Theories on why natural light may help prevent or reduce the severity of myopia revolve around sunlight releasing dopamine in the eyes as a response mechanism. The results of some of the studies suggest that kids’ spending more time outdoors may not prevent or decrease the condition of myopia, but rather slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. Of course, genetics is known to play a role in myopia. If both biological parents are nearsighted, the child has an increased susceptibility to becoming myopic. Optometrist, Dr. Gary Heiting, writes on his website that myopic children do tend to grow into nearsighted adults who need strong eyeglasses prescriptions. He notes that this is a concern because nearsighted people are at an increased risk for serious eye problems such as detached retina and cataracts.
We do have to consider cause and effect when trying to determine the weight of the studies on the connection between outdoor time and myopia in children. There is a need to have even more findings on this subject before we are closer to knowing if regular exposure to outdoor light can really help counter nearsightedness in kids. We’ll also need to know exactly how many hours of natural outdoor light our children will have to have to reduce the risk/effects of myopia. If spending more time outside in the natural light will help our children have a lower risk for nearsightedness as well as eye problems that could also develop as a result of the myopia, then perhaps we should plan on more outdoor time with them now anyway. Bringing back ongoing family bike rides and hikes in the park could be a good thing not only for physical fitness rewards, but also for the sake of our children’s eyes. While we’re waiting for more research to come out on the connection between outdoor time and kids’ nearsightedness, spending more time with our children outdoors shouldn’t hurt!
Monday, February, 25 2013 by Sheri Cyprus
With the first month of 2013 already said and done, many of us have already jumped ship on our New Year’s Resolutions. Whether these are related to weight loss, health or something else, the main thing is to get back on track after a fall out. So what that it’s February? That’s still 10 whole months left in the year even after February’s finished. Plus, when it comes to something important such as caring for our eyes, any month of the year is a good time to start because better late than never, right? Here are five important eye related goals to add to your resolution list for 2013:
1. I WILL GET REGULAR EYE EXAMS
Adults should have an eye exam every two years — more often for diabetic or other patients with risks for eye disease. For those over 60, more frequent checks for conditions such as age-related Macular Degeneration is usually recommended. Your doctor and optometrist can let you know how often you should be getting eye check ups. Children should get their first eye exam at 6 months of age, then typically at 3 and 6 years of age, but again, your pediatrician or eye doctor may recommend a different schedule depending on the exact health needs of your child. If you or your child notice a change in vision, this can also warrant a eye doctor visit. Eye exams should check for serious eye diseases such as glaucoma and you can also usually update your lens prescription during your check up to save a second trip.
2. I WILL AVOID THE PAIN OF EYESTRAIN
Long episodes of working at a computer screen can be downright uncomfortable for our eyes. Red or sore eyes, headaches and the like aren’t any fun and these common symptoms of eyestrain may even interfere with our work productivity. Computer glasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective and many people find that wearing them helps prevent those annoying symptoms. Another helpful tip for eyestrain prevention is to take breaks by focusing your eyes away from the computer screen for a few minutes at a time throughout the workday. According to the Mayo Clinic, gently massaging your temple, brow and eyelid area with your fingertips twice a day can help relieve the effects of eyestrain as well. Here’s hoping for a eyestrain-free 2013!
3. I WILL GET THE MOST VALUE FROM MY EYEWEAR
Rather than spending a lot of money on one pair of glasses, buying several pairs of good, well-priced eyewear can let you keep “spares” where you need them. For instance, one pair at the office and another in the car can be life savers, well eye savers, if you run out of the house without your regular glasses. Having a few pairs of eyewear for kids who are forever forgetting half of what they own at Grandma’s, school or a friend’s house can especially be a sanity saver for frustrated parents. Another way to get the most value from eyewear is to look for sturdy construction such as spring hinges on all types of glasses and nose pads on metal frames to keep them from sliding.
4. I WILL TAKE PROPER CARE OF MY GLASSES
Well, we know that the words “proper care” may send you running from the room, but we hope not. Really, caring for eyeglasses is a cinch with only a few quick things to note. One of these is to never use paper towels to clean glasses as they can scratch. A few drops of mild hand soap on the lenses, added while you gently rinse your glasses under running water can get rid of any little spots or smudges. A soft cloth is great for drying or polishing eyeglasses. There you have it. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
5. I WILL LET MYSELF EXPERIMENT WITH FUN FASHION FRAMES
As a reward for taking such good care of your eyes and your glasses, remember to actually have fun when picking out new frames. With so many high quality frames available at awesome prices, you can often create a wardrobe of eyewear to go with all of your fashion looks. Try at least one pair of glasses that have a stand out feature such as a bold color or detailed temples to really jazz things up!
Friday, February, 1 2013 by Sheri Cyprus
A recent study by researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia demonstrated a strong correlation between having insurance coverage for vision care and overall eye health. The study looked at people between the ages of 40 and 65 and found that people with vision coverage received more frequent eye exams than those who lacked coverage. Indeed, those who had undergone a recent eye exam reported better vision than those who hadn’t seen a doctor. Study participants with vision insurance, both those with healthy eyes and those with eye diseases, also reported better vision than those without insurance.
The reports of better vision among middle-aged people who receive regular eye exams isn’t surprising: Some vision problems, such as presbyopia, are age-related, but may go undetected for some time because a sufferer may simply adjust their behavior (such as holding a book at arm’s length) to accommodate their decreased vision or may attribute symptoms of eye strain (such as headaches) to other causes. When a vision problem is detected, however, an eye doctor can prescribe appropriate eyeglasses that can greatly improve the wearer’s vision.
Another factor in the correlation between eye exams and eye health is that many serious eye diseases, such as glaucoma, are progressive. Early treatment can make a huge difference in halting the effects of the disease and preserving a sufferer’s eyesight. When someone doesn’t see an eye doctor regularly, the earliest symptoms of eye diseases may be overlooked, and the sufferer may not seek medical attention until he or she experiences severe symptoms and vision loss.
Vision Insurance vs. Health Insurance
Many health insurance policies do not cover routine vision care or eyeglass prescriptions. As a result, many individuals forgo eye exams, even though the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults up to the age of 64 have an eye exam every 2-4 years and that older adults have their eyes checked every 1-2 years. People who do have health insurance, either privately or through work, should find out whether their policy covers eye exams. If it doesn’t, they should find out whether their work benefits package, or their insurer, offers a vision discount benefits package which can greatly reduce the cost of getting appropriate eye care, even without insurance coverage.
What to Do?
The evidence is clear: Early detection of eye problems protects eyesight. If you have vision care insurance, make use of it. Call an eye doctor for an appointment and ask him or her how often you should be getting your exams. If you don’t have insurance or participate in a vision discount program, don’t fret. You still have options for affordable eye care:
- Eye exams aren’t typically all that expensive: Exams by doctors in private offices often run about $100 while the cost of an exam in a freestanding or department store eyeglass shop can run around $50. Of course, if you have serious vision issues or there is a family history of vision problems, you may need to pay extra to see a specialist. If this is a concern, talk to your primary care physician. He or she can tell you if you need to seek out specialized vision care.
- You can use funds from your flexible spending account to pay for eye care that isn’t covered by insurance.
- Contact community health centers and charities in your area to ask about financial assistance with eye exams or for the dates of free vision screenings offered at health care fairs.
Wednesday, January, 30 2013 by Lainie Petersen