Dietary Treatments for Computer Eye Strain

Dietary Treatments for Computer Eye Strain
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Certain berries may help relieve visual fatigue associated with staring at a computer screen all day.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What happens to our eyesight if we sit in front of a computer all day? In previous years, “the rapid spread of computers…in the home and workplace has led to an increase in ocular and visual problems, including eye discomfort, blurring of distant objects, eye strain, and…(visual fatigue).” So called “nearwork-induced transient myopia.” That’s when, after staring at a computer screen for a while, you look out the window, and things start out all blurry. That’s because our poor little ciliary muscles pulling at the lens in our eyes are locked in this constant state of contraction to keep that near focus. Over time, this can have long-term adverse consequences. Yes, we could waste 4 to 12 minutes an hour taking breaks staring out the window, but what if you’ve got nutrition videos to make?

The “Effects of Black Currant Intake on Work-induced Transient Refractive Alteration in Healthy Humans.” “A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study” finding a significant improvement in refractive values and eyestrain symptoms compared to placebo. Note what passes for currants in the U.S. are actually champagne grape raisins, not actual black currants—which were banned in the U.S. a century ago, at the behest of the lumber industry, for fear they might spread a plant disease that affects white pine, which we hardly even harvest any more. They are, however, currant-ly making a comeback, though any anthocyanin-rich berry might have similar benefits. For example, there was a previous study done on bilberries. Why didn’t I report on it when it came out? Because I can’t read Japanese.

Why not just take bilberry powder capsules? Because, as we’ve seen over and over, when you test supplements, you’re lucky if they have any of what it says on the label. “Furthermore, even for products actually containing [bilberries] at all, labeling was often uninformative, misleading, or both”—something the herbal supplement market is infamous for. The largest study to date found that it appears that most herbal supplement labels lie. And, who wouldn’t want to eat this, rather than this?

It’s interesting; bilberries gained notoriety during World War II, when it was said that pilots in the British Royal Air force were “eating bilberry jam to improve their night vision.” Turns out this may have been a story concocted to fool the Germans. The real reason the Brits were able to, all of a sudden, target Nazi bombers in the middle of the night, before they even made it to the English Channel was likely not because of bilberries, but because of a top-secret new invention they needed to keep quiet, called radar.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to BenFrantzDaleVincent MaBgbloggingElizabeth Thomsen, and glimorec via Flickr; ParentingPatch via Wikimedia; and the Calgary Board of Education. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What happens to our eyesight if we sit in front of a computer all day? In previous years, “the rapid spread of computers…in the home and workplace has led to an increase in ocular and visual problems, including eye discomfort, blurring of distant objects, eye strain, and…(visual fatigue).” So called “nearwork-induced transient myopia.” That’s when, after staring at a computer screen for a while, you look out the window, and things start out all blurry. That’s because our poor little ciliary muscles pulling at the lens in our eyes are locked in this constant state of contraction to keep that near focus. Over time, this can have long-term adverse consequences. Yes, we could waste 4 to 12 minutes an hour taking breaks staring out the window, but what if you’ve got nutrition videos to make?

The “Effects of Black Currant Intake on Work-induced Transient Refractive Alteration in Healthy Humans.” “A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study” finding a significant improvement in refractive values and eyestrain symptoms compared to placebo. Note what passes for currants in the U.S. are actually champagne grape raisins, not actual black currants—which were banned in the U.S. a century ago, at the behest of the lumber industry, for fear they might spread a plant disease that affects white pine, which we hardly even harvest any more. They are, however, currant-ly making a comeback, though any anthocyanin-rich berry might have similar benefits. For example, there was a previous study done on bilberries. Why didn’t I report on it when it came out? Because I can’t read Japanese.

Why not just take bilberry powder capsules? Because, as we’ve seen over and over, when you test supplements, you’re lucky if they have any of what it says on the label. “Furthermore, even for products actually containing [bilberries] at all, labeling was often uninformative, misleading, or both”—something the herbal supplement market is infamous for. The largest study to date found that it appears that most herbal supplement labels lie. And, who wouldn’t want to eat this, rather than this?

It’s interesting; bilberries gained notoriety during World War II, when it was said that pilots in the British Royal Air force were “eating bilberry jam to improve their night vision.” Turns out this may have been a story concocted to fool the Germans. The real reason the Brits were able to, all of a sudden, target Nazi bombers in the middle of the night, before they even made it to the English Channel was likely not because of bilberries, but because of a top-secret new invention they needed to keep quiet, called radar.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to BenFrantzDaleVincent MaBgbloggingElizabeth Thomsen, and glimorec via Flickr; ParentingPatch via Wikimedia; and the Calgary Board of Education. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

Doctor's Note

This is the final installment of my four-part video series on the latest science on protecting our vision. In Greens vs. Glaucoma, I listed the best foods to help prevent glaucoma, and in Dietary Prevention of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, I did the same for age-related macular degeneration. Then I addressed the Dietary Treatment of Glaucoma, in which I also mentioned black currants (as well as in Enhanced Athletic Recovery Without Undermining Adaptation).

By using a standing or treadmill desk, we can avoid some of the other adverse health effects of sitting at a computer all day. See my video Standing Up for Your Health. I’m now up to 17 miles a day!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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