DOPAMINE: Friend or Foe — Being Addiction-Free with Smartphones, Social Media, Video Games, Computers & TV

How many times a day do you check your phone, text, email, search or watch online streaming television, or engage in social media interaction? Most of us text friends and tap, swipe, or type in front of our family members throughout the day, and even sacrificing valuable and much needed time when we should be sleeping. Why are we as a society so compulsively engaged in these addictive behaviors?  Discover natural tips to boost your productivity, the role that dopamine plays, and how you can take control of your health.

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Natural Prevention and Treatment for Healthy Eyes

Image Credit:  Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

Image Credit: Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

How do we Keep our Eyes Healthy?
Painful, watery, itchy or tired eyes can be the result of many different factors. The type of treatment needed depends on the cause of the eye problem.  These factors may include the following:

  • Allergies or Environmental Triggers
  • Eyestrain or Stress
  • Fatigue or Poor Sleeping Patterns
  • Conjunctivitis or Infection in the Eye
  • Insufficient Oxygen to the Cornea and Outer Eye Tissue

Watery Red Eyes

Allergies and Eyes
Most people associate allergies with sneezing, coughing or wheezing, and nasal discharge or “runny nose,” but the eyes are often affected by allergies. According to the
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, eye allergy symptoms can include: Itching, redness, burning and a clear, watery discharge.
Outdoor allergens, such as pollen from grass, flowers, trees and weeds can easily trigger eye allergy symptoms as well as indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, mildew and mold. Environmental  irritants such as diesel exhaust and petroleum fumes, perfumes, and cigarette smoke also can cause the eyes to fatigue, burn and water.

 

Teenager on Computer Eye StrainEye Strain and Overuse
Recent studies show that more than 9 out of 10 adults (93.3 percent) spend more than two hours each day using a computer or other digital device, with more than 6 in 10 adults (60.8 percent) spending five or more hours every day on digital devices. This is often referred to as “digital eye strain.”

Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. This would include desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones. The average person who does not sit in from of a digital screen will blink the eye about 18 times per minute. This natural blinking, lubricates the eyeball and prevents dry, itching or burning eyes. However, research shows that those who spend 2 or more hours staring at a digital screen, blink the eyes less often. This can result in dry, itchy or burning eyes.

 

Young Boy Reading Eye StrainOther causes of eye strain include excessive use of the eyes in any ongoing continuous activity that requires intense and unaltered focus in vision — such as extended amounts of driving, writing, or reading.  Each of these activities can cause eye fatigue. Those who work long hours using their eyes, such as accountants, researchers, illustrators or artists, editors, writers are at high risk. Those who drive vehicles without frequent visual changes, such as a truck driver who drives long distance on many miles of road with no change in scenery are also susceptible to eye strain. Continuous use of the eyes without blinking or change in focus, causes the eyes to get less exercise and to strain the eyes.

 

Sleeping Disorders and Fatigue
When a person does not get enough sleep the eyes are dramatically affected.  After a few sleepless nights, the skin around the eyes can turn an unhealthy brown, yellow or sallow color and often become puffy.

Sleeping ChildChronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. The body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen. Collagen can help to maintain the elasticity and softness of the skin.  Without adequate rest or sleep, the eyes cannot revive. Sleep, rest, or meditation is necessary to rejuvenate the eyes and maintain proper eye health. Those who do not get enough sleep may experience blurred vision, eye pain, dry eyes, watering or burning eyes, and in extreme cases, trouble focusing, clouded vision, double vision, and twitching of the eyelid or eyeball (myokymia).  Myokymia can be very distracting and limit productivity.  If a person has trouble sleeping, they should try gentle meditation exercises or napping throughout the day.

 

Conjunctivitis or Eye Infection
How does one know the difference between simple eye strain, allergies or an eye infection? Symptoms of an eye infection are more severe. Watery, burning, red and tired eyes caused by an allergic reaction, lack or sleep or eye strain, will generally improve or will be slightly relieved when the person rests or removes the known allergen(s) triggering the response.

Image Credit:  Journal of the American Medical Association  www.jamanetwork.com

Image Credit: Journal of the American Medical Association http://www.jamanetwork.com

Allergies can develop into conjunctivitis or eye infection if not properly treated. Untreated eye infection can be very serious and lead to vision impairment.  According to the American Optometric Association, the symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

The American Optometric Association defines conjunctivitis as:

“Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye… While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.”

The three major types of conjunctivitis are allergic, chemical, or infectious. Infectious conjunctivitis can be either viral or bacterial. A person can get staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from their own skin or respiratory system and this bacteria can spread to the eye through touch, from insects, or from other people. 

People can also develop bacterial conjunctivitis from poor hygiene habits, such as rubbing or touching the eyes with unclean hands or using old, contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions. Eye MakeupFor this reason, makeup application brushes should be cleaned regularly and old makeup should be discarded after about one year, depending on use. Application sponges should be washed after each use and thrown away after about one month. Most cleansers and lotions contain fatty acids and should be discarded after six months. Makeup contamination can occur at any time, because it is always in contact with the eyes, mouth and fingers, which are highly susceptible to germs. If something has changed color or has a strange smell, throw it away immediately.  

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue underneath the eyelid. Those who wear soft contact lenses, can contract this infection from the bacteria on the contact lenses. The likelihood of contracting this infection is heightened during the allergy season.

Sick Woman Blowing NoseContagious viral upper respiratory infections, such as influenza or the common cold, are generally the causes of viral conjunctivitis. This is usually  contracted through coughing or sneezing, and spreads from the mucus of the nose or mouth, onto the hands and into the eye.

 

Lack of Oxygen to the Eye
Lack of oxygen to the brain and the eye, such as what occurs in those with sleep apnea, heart failure, lung disease or other cardio-pulmonary,  or neurological conditions, can cause eye strain and result in loss of vision due to the effects on the retina, choroid or optic nerve.  Climbing Mountain Lack of OxygenAlso at risk are pilots or cross country hikers, who become oxygen deprived.  If someone is experiencing blurring vision, pain, or swelling or pressure behind the eyes, due to lack of oxygen, they should contact their doctors or trusted health practitioner.  If an insufficient amount of oxygen is entering the bloodstream, the body will react rapidly. This deficit in oxygen is called hypoxia. The eye is usually the first body part to be affected by hypoxia.  A person can recover when the body regains its normal oxygen supply. Hypoxia will progress to anoxia if left untreated. Anoxia is a complete lack of oxygen which results in permanent physical damage or death.

 

Contact Lens

Image Credit: Colormecontacts.com

Contact lenses, in addition to being a trigger for bacterial infections (as written above), can decrease the supply of oxygen to the cornea when it is too tight, too thick or if worn too long. However, a soft contact lens known as silicon hydrogel is less likely to cause this problem, as it provides six times more oxygen to the eye than the traditional soft lens, but these lenses are more expensive. Those who are not practicing careful hygiene with their contact lenses or who wear their lenses too long, could experience symptoms such as clouded vision and red and painful eyes. If this occurs, the person should discontinue using contact lenses and consult a medical practitioner.  They might be advised to use and ointments or drops to reduce swelling, tearing, and promote healing.

 

Preventative Measures
To prevent bacterial or viral eye infection and allergic or chemical eye strain or infection, simple preventative measure can be taken:

  • Washing HandsKeep windows closed during high pollen periods; use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and especially after petting any animal.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks if spending long hours using the eyes (writing, driving, reading, etc.)
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites, and a dehumidifier to control mold.
  • Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
  • Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.Man Sleeping
  • Get plenty of sleep, or try meditation or frequent naps to rest the eyes.
  • Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
  • Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
  • Use specially designed computer eyewear such as anti-reflective, or AR, lens, or blue light-blocking lenses

 

Natural Treatments for Tired Eyes
There are several natural treatments that might be effective for tired eyes. However, if you suspect that you have a serious infection and experience no relief after making lifestyle changes, see a doctor or trusted healthcare professional for an examination, accurate diagnosis, medical advice and treatment.

Tea Treatment for Tired Eyes

  • Tea has been an age-old remedy to soothe tired eyes. Boil some tea in a little water and let it cool. Dip 2 clean pieces of gauze into the cool tea and place one on each eye for 15 minutes. Make sure you keep dipping the gauze into the liquid as soon as it dries, and reapply as needed.
  • For temporary relief of tired eyes, lie down, close your eyes, and place a cold washcloth (compress) over your eyes. Relax for about 15 or 20 minutes. Refresh the compress as needed.
  • When seeking relief for computer eye strain, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Industrial Health have found that lowering the computer monitor’s position (and the angle of your head) increases tear production and soothes tired eyes.
  • Eye exercises and vision therapy can sometimes be very effective. Specially trained therapists or ophthalmologists might provide this.
  • For tired eyes, wash them with cold water, several times a day. Rinsing the eyes with water has been found to be highly effective in soothing tired eyes.
  • Herbal remedies such as eyebright and goldenseal have been known to be helpful (do not use goldenseal during pregnancy, or if you are allergic to ragweed).
  • An effective homeopathic remedy might be Ruta graveolens. It is most likely to be helpful in cases of eyestrain where the eyes burn and water after long periods of eye use.

Eye Exam

Prescription or Over the Counter Medications
Your health care practitioner or doctor might advise you to control some symptoms with nonprescription medications, sold over the counter or a prescription medication for infection. These might include

  • Artificial tears
  • Decongestant eyedrops (don’t use eyedrops for “red eye” longer than a week, or they can make things worse)
  • Oral antihistamines (note that they may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medication
  • Antibiotic eye drops or eye cream prescription medication

However, the best way to prevent eye strain or eye infection and to ensure healthy eyes, is to live a healthy, responsible life.  Be sure to get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, protect your eyes from sun, smoke, and eyestrain, and get regular eye checkups from your trusted doctor or health practitioner.

 

Resources
Azari, AA; Barney, NP (October 23, 2013). “Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment.”. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 310 (16): 1721–9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318. PubMed

Brendan T. Barrett (2008). “A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy”. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 29(1): 4–25, Retrieved 2015-o1-10  PubMed

Conjunctivitis, American Optometric Association, aoa.org. Accessed 2015-01-10

Cassel, G.H.,  Billig, M.D.,  Randall, H.G., The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book),  Paperback, April 3, 1998,  ISBN-13: 978-0801858475

Eye Allergy, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Accessed 2015-01-10

Goldberg, S., Trattler, W, Ophthalmology Made Ridiculously Simple, Paperback – April 15, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1935660064

Torin Monahan. “Vision Control and Autonomy Constraints: Managed Care Confronts Alternative Medicine.” June 1998.  Retrieved 2015-o1-10  publicsurveillance.com

What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis? What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?”. medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 2015-01-10.

 

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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  Images used in this article are free public domain from Pixabay.com or Publicdomainpictures.net  Other images are credited.

 

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What Are Cell Phones Doing to Our Brains? – Research and Statistical Studies

How Do Cell Phones Affect our Brain?

Do cell phones make us sick? How do mobile phones affect us?

Can mobile phones make us sick?  What do cell phones do to our bodies and our minds?   Cellular (cell) phones first became widely available in the United States in the 1990’s.   Since that time the use of mobile phone devices has increased dramatically . The widespread use of cell phones has led to cell phone towers being placed in many communities.

Cell phone towers, also called base stations, receive and transmit radio frequency (RF) signals. As of November 2011, there were more than 6 billion subscriptions worldwide for mobile phones. In 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.” That means that there “could be some risk” of carcinogenicity, and that more long-term, research is needed particularly on heavy use of mobile phones.

man stressed cell phoneWHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to Martin Röösli, Environmental Research,  mobile phone users have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after using cell phones.  These symptoms include:

  1. burning and tingling sensations in the skin of the head and extremities
  2. fatigue
  3. sleep disturbances
  4. dizziness
  5. loss of mental attention, reaction times and memory
  6. headaches
  7. malaise
  8. tachycardia (heart palpitations)
  9. nausea
  10. digestive problems.

However, researchers note that all of these symptoms can also be attributed to stress and that current research cannot factor out the effects of stress and the effect of mobile phone radiation.

HOW DO CELL PHONE TOWERS WORK? 
Cell phone base stations may be free-standing towers or mounted on existing structures, such as trees, water tanks, or tall buildings. The antennas need to be high enough so they can cover the area. Base stations are usually from 50-200 feet high.  Cell Phone Towernternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)  noted that exposure to the brain from RF fields from cell phone base stations (mounted on roofs or towers) is less than 1/100th the exposure to the brain from mobile devices such as cell phones.

Cell Phone RisksWHAT DO PUBLIC AGENCIES TELL US?
The  agencies that usually classify cancer-causing exposures (carcinogens) – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have not classified the cancer-causing potential of cell phone towers.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said:

“Radiofrequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS [personal communications service] transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits. These safety limits were adopted by the FCC based on the recommendations of expert organizations and endorsed by agencies of the Federal Government responsible for health and safety. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that such towers could constitute a potential health hazard to nearby residents or students.”

In May 2011, WHO, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced it was classifying the electromagnetic fields from cell phones and other sources as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Mobile Phone Brain
The World Health Organization advised the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposure, like use of hands-free devices or texting.

WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US?
Researchers agree that more long-term research is needed to determine the effects of mobile phone usage and the effects of cell phone base stations.

Researchers from a German study conducted by Joachim Schüz and others in 2006, stated:

“In conclusion, no overall increased risk of glioma or meningioma was observed among these cellular phone users; however, for long-term cellular phone users, results need to be confirmed before firm conclusions can be drawn.”

Mobile Phone Radiation

Cell phones can heat the body with radio frequency (RF) radiation.

A 2009 study examined the effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) from a standard GSM cell phone on the cognitive functioning of humans. The study confirmed that longer (slower) response time were needed for a spatial working memory task when the subjects were exposed to RFR from a standard GSM cellular phone.  The phone was placed next to the head of male subjects, and showed that longer duration of exposure to RFR may increase the effects on performance. Right-handed subjects exposed to RFR on the left side of their head on average had significantly longer response times when compared to exposure to the right side and sham-exposure.

CAN LONG-TERM CELL PHONE USE CAUSE BRAIN CANCER?
A Swedish scientific team at the Karolinska Institute led by Stefan Lönn and others, conducted an epidemiological study (2004) that suggested that regular use of a mobile phone over ten or more years was associated with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a type of benign brain tumor. Those who used mobile phones less than ten years did not show an  increased risk.

Reseachers from the Interphone Project, a 2010 thirteen-nation project and the largest study of its kind ever undertaken,  did not find a solid link between mobile phones and brain tumors.

Cell Phone Interphone Study

Interphone Study Statistics

The International Journal of Epidemiology published a combined data analysis from a multinational population-based case-control study of the two most common types of brain tumors, glioma and meningioma, entitled, “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”.  The authors reported the following conclusions:

“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.”

Researchers who report that there is no substantial evidence that long term exposure to cell phones causes brain cancer,  refer to statistical information and cross comparisons with data from cell phone usage and brain cancer incidence.

Cell Phone Brain Cancer
The graph above clearly shows that as mobile phone usage increased, brain cancer incidence decreased. Therefore, showing that brain cancer is not directly connected to cell phone usage.

However, in 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.”

HOW CAN WE BE SAFE?
Even though there appears to be no correlation between brain cancer and increased mobile phone usage, mobile, the World Health Organization’s International Agency  and national radiation authorities recognizes long-term use of cell phones as being potentially harmful and having adverse effects.  Safety precautions are recommended.

Cell phone safety

Health  and safety poster from the City of San Francisco provided to consumers under city law

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer  and some national radiation advisory authorities, including those of Austria, France, Germany, and Sweden, have recommended that people take measures to minimize exposure to radiation from cell phone usage. Some examples of the recommendations are:

  • Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head.
  • Keep the mobile phone away from the body.
  • Do not use telephone in a car without an external antenna.
  • Use mobile radiation tracking apps to help to limit radiation exposure


REFERENCES

Interphone Study Group (2010). “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”. International Journal of Epidemiology 39 (3): 675–694.

Luria, Roy; Eliyahu, Ilan; Hareuveny, Ronen; Margaliot, Menachem; Meiran, Nachshon (2009). “Cognitive effects of radiation emitted by cellular phones: The influence of exposure side and time”. Bioelectromagnetics 30 (3): 198–204. 

Lönn, Stefan; Ahlbom, Anders; Hall, Per; Feychting, Maria (2004). “Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma”Epidemiology 15 (6): 653–9.

Röösli, Martin (June 2008). “Radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure and non-specific symptoms of ill health: A systematic review”Environmental Research 107 (2): 277–287.

Schüz, Joachim; Böhler, Eva; Berg, Gabriele; Schlehofer, Brigitte; Hettinger, Iris; Schlaefer, Klaus; Wahrendorf, Jürgen; Kunna-Grass, Katharina et al. (2006). “Cellular Phones, Cordless Phones, and the Risks of Glioma and Meningioma (Interphone Study Group, Germany)”.American Journal of Epidemiology 163 (6): 512–20.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
 Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.