About Our Guest- Rudrani Banik, M.D. – Optimizing eye health and mitigating digital eye strain

Rudrani Banik, M.D. has specialized training in Functional Medicine. She applies principles of complementary and alternative medicine in conjunction with traditional medical approaches to treat chronic diseases affecting the visual system. She offers a unique approach to managing conditions such as dry eye, macular degeneration, blepharitis, migraine, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, thyroid eye disease, uveitis, and other autoimmune conditions. She is the founder of Envision Health NYC, a private practice based in New York City. She is an award-winning Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine and also serves as principal investigator for 5 multi-centered clinical trials in neuro-ophthalmology. Dr. Banik is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Exam Development Committee and helps to set the standards for board certification in her field. She is sought out as an expert in the media and has been featured in The New York Times, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, ABC 7 Eyewitness News, CBS NY with Dr Max Gomez, Fox 5 News with Ernie Anastos, NY Magazine’s Best Doctors 2017, 2018, and 2019, The Washington Post, New Tang Dynasty TV, and Real Simple Magazine. She was voted Castle Connolly Top Doctor 2017, 2018, and 2019 by her peers.

Full Podcast Transcription

Rudrani Banik 00:00
The researchers took some cells, put them in a petri dish and exposed them to high levels of blue light. And lo and behold, those cells died. What they didn’t let the public know is that the cells that they put in the petri dish, were not even eye cells. They were not retinal cells. They were not photoreceptors. They were cervical cancer cells.

Diva Nagula 00:17
Oh, wow. Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of From Doctor to Patient. Today I have the pleasure of having Dr. Rudrani Banik. Dr. Banik has specialized training in functional medicine. She applies principles of complementary and alternative medicine, in conjunction with traditional medical approaches to treat chronic diseases affecting the visual system. She offers a unique approach to managing investments such as dry eye, macular degeneration, blepharitis, migraine, multiple sclerosis, thyroid eye disease, uveitis, and other autoimmune conditions. She is the founder of Envision Health New York City, and private grace practice in New York City. She’s an award winning Associate Professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine and also serves as the principal investigator for five multicenter clinical trials in neuro ophthalmology. Dr. Banik is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Exam Development Committee, and helps to see the standards for board certification in her field. She was also voted Castle Connelly’s Top Doctor 2017-19 by her peers. Hi, Dr. Banik, how are you?

Rudrani Banik 01:52
I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me on your show. And for that kind introduction.

Diva Nagula 01:57
You’re very welcome. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be on the show. I really want to get into a lot of conversation regarding eye health as we’re stuck at home. And a lot of people have shifted their normal way of lifestyle, to more of a lifestyle of being at home and being on their computer screens. And this is really hazardous to our health and we’ll get more into that. But you’re an ophthalmologist, I really want to clarify the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist. Can you distinguish the two for us, please?

Rudrani Banik 02:30
Absolutely. So, I know that’s a question a lot of people have, you know, what’s the difference? And actually, there are three O’s in the eye care industry. So there’s ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. And so again, it causes a lot of confusion. So ophthalmologists are medical doctors. We’ve gone through four years of medical school and an internship and then a residency in ophthalmology and some of us that have done extra training in terms of a fellowship in a particular sub specialty. Optometrists have gone to college for four years and then got to four years of optometry school and some of them have also done a short residency one or two years of residency. The difference is that we both take care of many different eye conditions. But ophthalmologists actually do both the medical and the surgical treatment of eye disease. We also do glasses and prescribing medications and so forth. But it’s the full spectrum of eye health and optometrists prescribe glasses, they can diagnose and treat certain eye conditions, depending on the state that they’re in they can also prescribe medications, but it all depends on state laws. Opticians are the professionals who actually make the glasses so they grind the glasses even when you go to the eyeglasses store. Their opticians are going to be working with you to get your glasses just right. And that’s a separate type of degree or a separate certification.

Diva Nagula 03:47
Yeah, thanks so much for clearing that up because I’ve always, being in the health field, I know the difference, but so many people are telling me that they’re going to go to their optometrist to get LASIK surgery and I know no, that’s wrong, that’s wrong. It’s a different type of doctor.

Rudrani Banik 04:01
You can also look at the the initials after the name, so if it’s an OD it’s a doctor of optometry and if it’s MD it’s a medical doctor.

Diva Nagula 04:10
Perfect, perfect distinction. Right now, what are you seeing that’s a common complaint in your practice?

Rudrani Banik 04:17
Well, I think what you had alluded to before, the biggest concern people have is being on their computers all day long. And so even before the pandemic happened, many of us were spending hours and hours in front of the screen. So the average I think, for adults in the US was almost 11 hours a day on some type of device, whether it’s your phone, your tablet, your computer, watching TV. For Kids, it was almost six hours a day. And these are numbers again before the pandemic. So, now that we’ve all transitioned to working from home homeschooling, connecting with family and friends via devices, gaming, you know, watching streaming, it’s just going to skyrocket even more. I can’t even imagine what the numbers are going to look like. So the concern, is number one, digital eyestrain and number two, the blue light that comes from these screens. And so I’ll just define what digital eyestrain is. It’s a syndrome. And it has many different types of symptoms, and everyone can be different in what they experienced. But the symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty focusing dry eyes, light sensitivity, headaches, sometimes even head and neck or shoulder pain. So again, that’s digital eyestrain. And it comes from, you know, multiple things, it comes from keeping your eyes open while you’re looking at a screen. So when we’re looking at a screen, we just don’t blink as often. Normally, we blink about 15 times a minute, when we’re looking at a screen, we maybe blink about four or five times a minute, so our eyes tend to dry out. So that can cause dryness of the surface of the eye, it can cause a blurry vision. And then the focusing issue is, you know, when we’re looking at a particular distance for a prolonged period of time, whether it’s at the computer or device, our eyes are constantly having to accommodate or focus at that distance, and they get fatigued. So it is a form of eye fatigue. And then finally, the light that’s coming off the screen, which part of it is blue light, can lead to headaches and light sensitivity. So again, it’s a constellation of symptoms, many people get it, kids get it. And so there’s a couple of tips that I do recommend to try to lessen those symptoms, and there’s no way to eliminate it completely. But you can definitely try to prevent some of those things from happening.

Diva Nagula 06:28
And I guess let’s go into a little bit about that. Because for me, you know, and I guess for a lot of people who are sitting on their computers on a regular basis for hours, probably even more than the 11 hours that you were initially talking about. It’s to me it feels like it’s the sensation that I typically have is dryness/greediness that I feel it in the eye. Are there any other symptoms that people might be experienced that can condition them to feel that this is digital eyestrain and not just something that’s in the air?

Rudrani Banik 07:02
Yeah, so what you experienced is actually probably one of the most common symptoms, it’s like a grittiness or feeling like there are pebbles inside the eye. And that’s basically because the eyes dry, dried, dried out, and there’s friction. So whenever we blink, there’s friction against the eyelid and the surface of the eye. So we need to lubricate other symptoms people may complain of include burning, some people will say all my eyes are just burning, you know, I just can’t keep them open. Sometimes it’s redness, or sometimes it’s… people may feel as though their lids just want to close, like they just want to close their eyes. So those are all symptoms that could be suggestive of dry eye versus something else, for example.

Diva Nagula 07:39
And for a lot of these people to actually experience the digital eyestrain and the constellation of symptoms, is this something that is occurring over a long period of time, months and weeks, or is can it just occur when you’re on the computer screen for just a long period of time in one sitting?

Rudrani Banik 07:58
It’s usually that the ladder so the prolonged duration at one sitting, one of the most common things people tell me my patients tell me is when I wake up in the morning, I’m okay. But as the day goes on, and as I keep working, it’s just I can’t do it anymore. So that fatigue that happens during the course of the day. So in order to prevent that, I would say one of the most important things you can do is take frequent breaks. And there’s a quick, cute kind of way to remember how to take breaks, it’s called the 20/20 rule. So basically, vision, you know, think about 20/20 vision at the 20/20 rule is every 20 minutes, you set your timer every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, just close your eyes, you don’t even have to do anything, just close your eyes, maybe take some deep breaths. And that will allow your eyes just to relax. You’re getting lubrication when you close your eyes. And it’s just it’s so much more comfortable when you start working again. So keep that rule in mind.

Diva Nagula 08:51
That’s a great rule. Well the typical symptoms of the eyestrain well that accompany like mental fatigue and loss of sharpness of the of the brain because sometimes when my eyes go it’s like all of a sudden I feel exhausted, and I can’t think straight. So are the two related?

Rudrani Banik 09:10
Absolutely. So there’s there’s no scientific study that’s actually been done to relate them. But you know, absolutely. When we’re not seeing well, when we’re trying to focus on something and it’s just not clear. You know, our brain can’t process properly and we feel almost like a fog like a mental fog. And so yes, there is that component of it as well, mental fatigue.

Diva Nagula 09:31
For my podcast. I typically. And my book that I’ve written as well. I focus a lot on nutrition, and how it affects the overall health of our body. What does nutrition have an effect on our eye health?

Rudrani Banik 09:47
Yeah, actually. So that’s something that I really promote. My practice also is healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices for vision and brain health. And in terms of digital eyestrain, there’s a couple of things that are really important. So first of all, we were talking about lubricating your eyes. So to maintain a healthy surface of the eye healthy tear film, and in order to do that, you need to have plenty of omega 3s in your diet. So many of us have heard of the Omega has omega 6s in 3s and 3s are considered the more healthy omegas. And so, threes are important to maintain that surface oily layer of your tears. And you can get that through certain types of fish, as well as non-animal based products like flax seeds or chia seeds or take a supplement. That’s possible also. Another thing that’s really good for dry eye is vitamin A, vitamin A is really important to help maintain the ocular surface so you can get vitamin A through many different types of foods; spinach even like mangoes and many other nutrients have vitamin A and many other foods have vitamin A in them. But there’s something that a lot of people don’t realize, you know, two important eye health nutrients that don’t usually get talked about. So I think I’ll take this opportunity since you asked about nutrition to talk about them. Specific to digital eyestrain and blue light. So there are two nutrients that are called lutein and zeaxanthin. And many people probably never even heard of these nutrients, and what are they? Well, they are correct, carotenoids and carotenoids are, they’re related to vitamin A, they’re very potent antioxidants. And what they do is – they actually are found in the retina in the back of our eyes, they get deposited in the retina, and they act as blue light filters- actually blue light and UV light filters. So whenever those light rays come in, these pigments actually absorb those rays and neutralize them and protect our retina. So again, lutein and zeaxanthin I call them vitamin L and vitamin z, but they’re not truly vitamins, they’re nutrients. But the thing is our bodies can’t make these nutrients we need to get them from foods, or supplementation. The foods that tend to have these these two ihealth nutrients include green leafy vegetables, so spinach, kale, collard greens, also yellow and orange vegetables, so orange peppers, yellow peppers, corn, and even egg yolk is very, very rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin. So try to include these foods in your diet to get those eye health nutrients. The unfortunate thing is our bodies simply don’t get enough from diet alone. So it’s been estimated that for lutein, we need anywhere from six to 20 milligrams a day. And most of us on a Western diet probably only get one or two milligrams. For zeaxanthin most of us need about one to two milligrams a day and most of us like get less than one milligram. So this is where, you know, I had mentioned before supplementation, there are many supplements on the market but if you’re going to look for an eye health supplement or blue light supplement or digital eye strain supplement because that’s what they’re called on the market, look for an ingredient that has the lutein the zeaxanthin in it to protect your retinas protect your eyes. There’s another nutrient also called meso-zeaxanthin, which is a relative to lutein and zeaxanthin that meso-zeaxanthin is not readily found in foods. So that’s again, why a supplement is helpful. And there’s actually an ingredient that I found called glutamax 20/20. And it has all three of these eye health pigments in it. So it’s been found in many other brands on the market. So just look for glutamax 20/20. And you’ll get those pigments. But always try with nutrition first, that’s what I tell people. Try that first and then if you think you’re not getting enough, then you can take the supplement.

Diva Nagula 13:23
And I’m sure eating carrots is on a good list, right?

Rudrani Banik 13:25
Yes. So that’s not a myth. That’s actually true. So carrots are rich in vitamin A and vitamin A is again, important for the surface. It’s also very important for the retina to prevent night blindness. So when your parents told us eat your carrots, it’s very important you need to do that. But the lutein and zeaxanthin those are slightly different, they’re not found in carrots, so consider that as well.

Diva Nagula 13:50
And if we so right now we’re talking about foods that can positively affect our eye health. Are there any foods or things that we should avoid? Because we may worry that our eye health will be worsened as a result?

Rudrani Banik 14:04
Yeah, great question. So I like to categorize the not so good foods into the SAD diet. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of this or you’re listening but all the time. Yeah, Standard American Diet. So basically, high in simple sugars, processed foods and unhealthy fats, which are again, omega 6s. So basically junk food and simple sugars, you want to avoid that. So there’s definitely a link between too much sugar consumption and increased blood sugar which can then lead to diabetes and diabetes can cause a lot of complications in the eye and you know, it’s a risk for losing permanent vision, so you want to avoid that. Unhealthy fats, it can affect cholesterol metabolism, it can cause all kinds of issues in the eyes. So strokes for example, and more oxidative damage. So you want to avoid those types of fats and processed foods just in general and just want to stay away from those processes.

Diva Nagula 15:00
I guess it’s also important to point out, because when I was in school for integrative medicine, we were taught about having this ratio to optimize between omega six and omega threes. And omega six is typically formed by eating the standard American diet or the SAD diet, specifically more things that are saturated fats, meats and oils that are not really good for us like corn oil and, and things like that. And this typically increases our ratio of omega six to omega three, but we want to be able to combat that by eating less of those foods. And to help reduce our ratio of omega six to omega three to about five to one or even three to one.

Rudrani Banik 15:47
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s been estimated that in the standard American diet, people have a ratio of 30 to one.

Diva Nagula 15:53 Yeah, that’s awful!

Rudrani Banik 15:54
Even if you can lower that, you know, we’re aiming for that five to one or six to one ratio that would be ideal, You know, you don’t need to cut out omega six completely, because it’s to balance you know, you definitely need some, and then, you know, there’s been some early work done with omega nine as well. But I would say it’s really too early to say what the true health benefits are. But, you know, if you have a balanced diet, you probably will be getting six, three and nine in some ratio.

Diva Nagula 16:21
Are you a fan of a specific dosage for omega three fatty acids?

Rudrani Banik 16:27
So for eye health, specifically for dry eye, and for macular degeneration, there are conflicting studies out there, you know, some say that it’s beneficial some to say that it doesn’t really help so, I think the bottom line is, the best thing is to get it from foods, natural foods, so again, those you know, healthy fish, and then some of the other you know, flaxseed, chia seeds, and so forth. But if you were to take a supplement, I would say, anywhere from 1500 to 2000 a day, milligrams a day, in some of my patients, I actually have them do more, I have some patients who are on three to 4000 milligrams a day, but if you’re going to go that high, just make sure you work with your local doctor to make sure it’s safe. There is also a risk, you know, there’s been some research that’s shown that will make too much omega three can lead to increased bleeding tendencies, especially if you’re already on something like a blood thinner so you want to be extra careful with your omega three intake in that situation.

Diva Nagula 18:24
Also, in regarding to our eye health, a lot of people are actually also may not notice initially, eye difficulties whether it’s strain or focusing. It might manifests as other symptoms like headaches, is that common? And if so, are there any other symptoms that are unrelated to the eye that can manifest as symptoms related to improper eye health or poor eye help?

Rudrani Banik 18:48
Yeah, so headaches and eye issues go hand in hand for many reasons. But if you’re having chronic headaches, you know first check with your primary doctor to see whether anything else needs to be investigated, but one part of the headache workup is to get an eye exam because many people may have an underlying refractive error meaning that they’re either nearsighted or farsighted. They have astigmatism or presbyopia and once that’s corrected with either glasses or contacts, their eye strain goes away and their headaches get better. So that would be kind of a simple approach that can help relieve headaches. Now, that being said, there are other medical conditions that can cause headaches that also can be picked up on an eye exam. So that’s why seeing an eye doctor is very important as an as a neuro ophthalmologist, this is something I see every day you know comes in the door everyday patients with headaches and vision issues. So one of the most common things in terms of headaches and eye issues is migraine. And migraine is a specific syndrome. There are diagnostic criteria. Vision is actually not part of the diagnostic criteria. But many people have visual symptoms either they will see flashing lights, or they will see a pixelation in their vision or light sensitivity. So oftentimes when migraine is properly diagnosed, they’re not only does their headache get better, but some of their visual symptoms improve as well. So again, they go hand in hand. And also as a neuro-ophthalmologist, I see a lot of other headaches syndromes that could be indicative something else going on meaning a neurologic issue. So again, don’t just try to cover up your headache with you know, over the counter medications, make sure you get it checked out, because there are some more serious conditions out there that can cause headaches and vision problems,

Diva Nagula 20:33
Right. And I think if you are having migraines, you know, you would want to both see probably a neuro-ophthalmologist to just to check if the headaches are related to the eye issues and vice versa if the eye issues are related to the headache. So that’s a really good point to talk about. And the biggest thing that I’m really fascinated about is that I’ve been reading more and more about lights, and I’m a big fan of red light therapy, and I often use it when I’m doing by podcasts. And I also use red light therapy when I’m in the sauna. And it’s interesting how exposure to red light can actually counter the effects of blue light. But let’s talk a little bit about blue light and what it is and why it’s so detrimental to our health.

Rudrani Banik 21:19
Yeah, so blue light is on a lot of people’s minds because of the screen time that we’re having. So I’ll just first explain that. Blue Light is everywhere. It’s all around us. And there are natural sources, and then there’s artificial sources. So now in terms of natural source, the greatest source of blue light for us, no matter where we are, is the sun. And that’s really important to recognize the sun gives us more blue light than anything else that we could be exposed to. And that blue light is important for our health. It helps to regulate our circadian rhythm or our sleep- wake pattern. So when the sun rises in the morning, it starts to give off blue light, it signals to our brains that it’s time to wake up, it’s time to get out of bed get started with the day. And then as the sun courses through the sky and then starts to set, the amount of blue light starts to decrease. And it tells our bodies, it’s time to go to bed. There’s a sleep hormone called melatonin that’s released, when blue light diminishes, that’s coming from the sun. Now when we’re exposed to artificial sources of blue light, so blue light comes from screens from our phones, or tablets or computers, TVs, it also comes from light sources. So many of us now are using energy saving bulbs like CFL bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, or LED bulbs, because they help save energy, but they give off a lot of blue light, a lot more blue light than incandescent bulbs give off, much more blue light than fluorescent bulbs give off. And candles don’t really give off much blood at all. So that artificial light that we’re getting interferes with our sleep wake cycle. Many studies have shown that too much blue light exposure, especially in the two hours before bedtime can really make it much more difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep. But in terms of vision, so I want to clarify something, because about two years ago, in 2018, there was a paper that came out that caused this alarmist headline, the blue light from your screens is going to blind you. And many people got terrified when that came out. So that study, I just want to break down that study. So people were concerned, you know, if I’m on my screen too much, I’m going to lose vision and go permanently blind. That is not true. There is no evidence to say that in a human being too much blue light exposure will cause you to lose permanent vision. What the study did was, this is a very interesting study, the researchers took some cells, put them in a petri dish and exposed them to high levels of blue light and lo and behold, those cells died. What they didn’t let the public know is that the cells that they put in the petri dish, were not even eye cells. They were not retinal cells, they were not photoreceptors, they were cervical cancer cells.

Diva Nagula 23:57 Oh, wow.

Rudrani Banik 23:58
Because these cells are very easy to grow in a petri dish, they multiply they grow very well. So they put those cells in the petri dish. Those cells don’t have the natural mechanisms to protect against that kind of blue light, or UV light or any kind of oxidative damage. They don’t have the lutein, they don’t the zeaxanthin, and then they don’t have the internal protection that our eyes or retinal cells have against light, specifically blue light. So again, take that study with a grain of salt. And you know, we’ll see over time what develops in terms of you know, if there is any long term issue with blue light, but as far as we know, there is not, there definitely can be short term issues. So, there has been much research done in terms of blue light and digital eyestrain. So yes, there’s that connection. And then also, in terms of non-eye related issues. There has been some work done in kids looking at blue light exposure with hyperactivity, and decreased attention spans and learning issues. So there’s a host of other things that we should just to be aware of when it comes to blue light and to counteract You know, a lot of people say, should I get blue blocking glasses, you know, which ones should I get? There’s so many on the market, my response is. Number one, try to get the proper nutrients in your diet, take a daily eye health supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin, then if you still feel like you’re not protecting your eyes enough, you can consider blue blockers. There are many, many companies on the market now pushing blue blockers, they’re not all made the same. So it’s very interesting Consumer Reports magazine did a study in 2016, where they looked at three of the top selling blue blocking glasses on the market. And what they found was that out of those three, only one of them blocked out over 95% of the blue light, the other two only blocked out about 30 to 40% of the blue light. So what’s the point, right? If you’re going to get the glasses, you might as well get something that really is doing what it’s supposed to do. So if you’re buying them, ask the manufacturer, how much of the blue light does it really block out and try to, you know, strive for at least 90% or above. So that’s one thing you can do. Next, I think a really simple thing a lot of people don’t realize is they’re actually screen filter apps, you can download to your computer that internally will block out that blue light, and not even just block it out. But block it out according to the your timezone. So it can match the blue light that’s coming from the sun. So in the morning, it’ll be more blue light. And then as the day goes on, that filter app will block out more of the blue light, so you’re getting less blue light. So a couple of apps that I really like are Iris and F.LUX – so consider those as well.

Diva Nagula 26:37
And do we know if these apps… I mean, I know we’re looking for 90% blocking with the glasses? Do we know if these apps produce that 90%? Or is it greater?

Rudrani Banik 26:48
It depends on the setting that you put it on. So I actually prefer Iris because it has the flexibility, the capability to have 27 different settings. So you can go in and you can put in, okay, I want sleep mode, or I want healthy mode or I want movie mode or, you know, dark mode and you can play with it and adjust the blue light. So there are actually modes on that where you can block out all of it, you know, manually go in and block out all of it, I actually just prefer to have it on the natural setting, which is the healthy setting. So it just mirrors what’s happening with the, sunrise and sunset. But depending on you know, your your work hours and what your needs are, it’s very flexible in terms of what you’re doing with it.

Diva Nagula 27:30
And you find that this specific app is actually a lot better than the inherent function of our iPhones or other phones that we use. Because my iPhone, it has a function where you could actually dim the brightness. And I don’t know how much blue light it’s actually blocking, there’s no way of actually adjusting that setting, it just is either on or off. So I don’t know if there’s even an appropriate functionality to these features on on these iPhones or other phones.

Rudrani Banik 27:59
Yeah, so most of them do have some kind of feature on the iPhone, it’s called night shift mode. So if you put it on, you’ll see that it actually the hue of the of the screen changes, it becomes more like a kind of an amber type of hue. And so yes, it is blocking blue light, I don’t know what percentage is blocking, you know, many people think “oh, I’ll just lower the contrast.” But that’s not actually blocking the blue light it’s just lowering the brightness of the screen or the intensity of all the light, all the wavelengths. So I don’t know, and I know many of the other phones also have a similar feature, you know, night mode or something similar to that. So most current phones do have something. But if you if you think about the app, Iris, it’s, it’s a free app, it’s I think it’s a seven day free trial. And then if you like it, you can purchase it for a nominal amount. But you can just try it. And you’ll see the difference. I mean, the first time I tried it, I was just like, wow, this is incredible. I mean, it really helps me relax my eyes, because I do end up working late into the night often, oftentimes on my computer. And you know, I can’t avoid that sometimes I’m you know, it’s interfering with my sleep. So I decided to get this and it’s made a big difference.

Diva Nagula 29:10
Right? And I guess you hold more merits to this app, that the iris versus the specific functions that are inherent to the phones that we purchase or laptops or even our tablets?

Rudrani Banik 29:26
I do because again, you don’t know depending on the setting, how much of that blue light is really being blocked.

Diva Nagula 29:32
Okay, that’s good to know. I didn’t know that. So that’s the first thing I’m going to do is download this app. I also wanted to talk about children in what we can do for them in terms of preventing some eye damage. I mean, is there a specific number of hours that you recommend screentime for them on a daily basis? Or is it more of balancing proper eye health with diet and supplementation and reduction of screen time is the best way to go.

Rudrani Banik 30:01
I get this question from parents a lot, it’s a very valid question given that our kids are homeschooling now. So things have changed quite a bit in the past two months or so, for us, prior to COVID, the recommendation for from the American Academy of Pediatrics for kids was less than the age of two, no screentime, two to five, maybe max one hour a day, beyond that, no more than two hours a day, that’s up to about age 12 to 13. And then after that teenagers, we really can’t control how much screen time they’re going to have. But, the general recommendation was no more than two hours a day of screen time. And even before COVID, you know, that was that number was being challenged. Because even in schools, a lot of you know, school work was being done on the computer, even at home homework was being being done on the computer. So that’s why our kids had much more than that recommended two hours of screen time. Now, you know, it’s probably six to eight hours or more of screen time that they’re getting. So because it is unavoidable, you know, consider that you know, that those nutrients from foods, you know, I know, it’s really hard to get kids to eat some of those foods. You know, one thing that I found that works well, in our household are smoothies, you know, just making a smoothie, adding some fruit in there and making it taste good. If you think that they’re not getting some of those vital eye health nutrients, you can do a supplement, there are great gummy forms now of the supplements out there for kids. So you can look for like a blue light blocking gummy, you can absolutely get them blue blocking glasses, if they’re going to be at the computer for a long period of time and the app. So basically the same thing that adults should do kids should do. But the breaks is really, it’s really important for them. Because, you know, I see it in my daughter, you know, she’s on her screen all day, you know, doing schoolwork and everything else. And sometimes she’s just rubbing her eyes and you could see it, you can see it in their face. So you know, encourage them to take breaks, get them outdoors, if possible, do other things and go back to their work.

Diva Nagula 31:57
And with regards to lubrication, is this something that you want to do on a regular basis, or when we actually start having the symptoms of the grittiness, or the pebbles in our eyes.

Rudrani Banik 32:09
I would do it prophylactically. So you can get artificial tears or over the counter, there are many brands out there, just look for something that does not have a specific ingredient, the ingredient that you do not want to get is called polyvinyl alcohol. If you see anything on the label, it says alcohol, don’t buy it. It’s a cheap ingredient. It’s used a lot of the generics artificial tears out there. But it can be toxic to the surface of the eye, to the cornea, it can really cause a lot of irritation. So it actually can make things worse. So again, get some artificial tears, I like to chill them in the fridge, because it’s very soothing so you can just chill. And then before you start work, put in some drops, one drop in each eye, and then maybe every hour or so if you really have a tendency towards dry or for they’re feeling really gritty and irritated. Just put them in every hour. The other great tip I have is just by your workstation, you can get a very small portable humidifier. And you know one of those little you just screw the bottle in and you just have it kind of blowing towards you. And try to avoid any events or fans near your workspace because that will dry out your eyes to

Diva Nagula 33:20
Awesome, great tips. Well, Dr. Banik, I really appreciate you coming on our show. But before we end, I want to give you the opportunity to tell our listeners where they can find you and more about this book that you’re actually writing.

Rudrani Banik 33:36
Oh, well. Wonderful. Thank you so much. So the book I’m writing is on macular degeneration, and it is an integrative approach to macular degeneration. So what are the nutrients you need to keep your eyes healthy to stave off this potentially blinding disease? You know, what are the lifestyle factors that are important to consider, you know, what can you do in your power to prevent it So, the book will be hopefully coming out soon, I hope by the end of this summer, but otherwise you can get updates from me. On my website. It’s RudraniBanikMD.com which is my full name. I’m also very active on social media. So I’m on Instagram at @Dr.RaniBanik and on Facebook, I have two Facebook groups. If any of your listeners are interested in joining please do. One group is called Envision Health where I share a lot of eye health and brain health tips. And then the other group is called Ion Migraine. So I share a lot of natural ways to prevent migraine rather than pharmaceutical agents.

Diva Nagula 34:35
Awesome. Thank you so much. And as soon as we end the show, the first thing I’m gonna do is put some drops in my eyes.

Rudrani Banik 34:41 Excellent, me too!

Diva Nagula 34:44
Thanks again it was really nice meeting you.

Rudrani Banik 34:46 Thank you