Beware Computer Vision Syndrome

January 28, 2013 11:57 am
Eye strain

By Dr. Thomas A. Noël

Most people, when considering occupational hazards, would think of dangerous professions or perilous working conditions. However, what you may not realize is that your humdrum working conditions may be making you ill.

In the past 20 years, with the advent of ever more advanced technology in the workplace, optometrists have seen an increase in the number of patients complaining of headaches, blurred vision and tired eyes. Though these are not uncommon visual concerns, there is often one common denominator: daily computer usage. In most workplaces today, the computer is a vital tool required to perform daily tasks. In fact, more than 82 per cent of the population uses a computer daily, and among the working population,  one out of two people spends more  than three hours in front of various types of screens.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a real and emerging problem for a significant segment of the active population. CVS is characterized by eyestrain, burning eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Left unaddressed, CVS can result in chronic discomfort.

Presbyopes (progressive lens wearers) are those who are typically most affected by CVS, as the ability to accommodate vision at varying distances is compromised. This population, typically aged 40 and older, consists of progressive lens wearers who hold office jobs requiring frequent or prolonged computer use. Although the progressive lens is an excellent tool for seeing clearly at many distances, it is not ideal for significant amounts of time spent at the computer or reading.

In response to the change in user habits, most major lens manufacturers have evolved their product line to include more comfortable ophthalmic lens solutions for computer use.

Computer lenses, also known as an  occupational lens or a “business lens”,  are no-line bifocal lenses which allow for a variation of powers throughout  the lens, providing optimum vision between near media and the computer screen.

Though not designed for use away from the desk, patients often tell me of the additional benefits of computer lenses, and in particular of the larger field of vision at near and at intermediate distances. As well as making computer work and reading clearer in the office environment, newspaper reading and many hand-held hobbies such as needle-point, sewing and woodwork are facilitated with the use of these types of lenses.

As a supplementary pair of eyeglasses, computer lenses are successful in reducing the impacts of CVS. By adapting the focal length of the lens  according to the distance between the patient and his/her monitor, Da AY DRI computer lens allows for the ideal  prescription to be optimally aligned in front of their eyes. In correlation with a quality anti-reflective coating, this  prescription correction will reduce eye fatigue and eyestrain.

If you find your eyes are sore, dry and tired at the end of the day, or if you experience difficulty focusing at the computer, consult your optometrist. In addition to assessing your visual needs, your optometrist will be able to explain what lenses will best benefit your lifestyle.

Why suffer needlessly?


Healthwise: Realistic Health Goals for 2013

January 7, 2013 3:51 pm
“Quality is better than quantity when it comes to resolutions.”
Photo Credit (Photographer / url link to source):

As we welcome the month of January 2013, it is the perfect time to reflect on 2012 and set personal and professional goals for the year ahead. Many of us are enthusiastic to set health goals, often related to weight-loss and/or muscle gain, only to be disappointed and riddled with guilt by mid-February because we have let our resolutions fall by the wayside in favour of a good book and a glass of wine. Instead, this year focus on setting one or two realistic goals. After all, quality is better than quantity when it comes to resolutions. By identifying only a few goals, we are more likely to encourage consistency and therefore success.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

If your version of a sensible diet is deprivation of all the treats you love, you will quickly give up on healthy eating. It is much easier to set small goals, such as eating one more fruit and one more vegetable per day. The Canada Food Guide recommends 7 to 10 servings of fruit and/or vegetables per day (depending if you are male or female). The easiest way to consume more produce is by blending them into a smoothie. This way you can easily boost your intake at every meal without noticing.

Stay active

It’s amazing how quickly you can increase your level of physical activity by focusing on staying active throughout the day rather than approaching exercise from an all-or-nothing standpoint. Often we fail our exercise plans when we participate only if we have a full hour or two to commit to a structured activity. Instead, incorporate your exercise throughout the day in ways that add up. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get off the bus a few blocks before your usual stop and walk home. Before you know it, you will feel more energized without having to sacrifice too much of your schedule.

Take a break

Start the New Year with a new mindset – one that includes being kind to yourself. Prioritize your mental and physical wellness by taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No matter how busy you feel, there will always be more work to do. Invest in your wellness by taking some time out to gather your thoughts. Go for a coffee, take a walk in the fresh air or end your day with a few minutes of meditation. No matter your version of a break, you will thank yourself in the long run.

Get adequate sleep

Many of us choose to sacrifice sleep in favour of fitting more into a schedule that is already bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, lack of restful sleep does build up over time and has a negative impact on mood, immunity and overall productivity. So be sure to rest up. By choosing to sleep more, you become more efficient when you need to get a lot done.

Ancient Martial Art Growing in the Capital

3:42 pm

Energy is about to burst through the walls in the basement of a building located at 433 Bank Street. As you open the door and descend the stairs, sounds of punching, rope slashing and heavy breathing start to get louder. The picture clears up as you step into a well-lit gym.

A couple of sweaty men are punching sturdy bags. The mirrors on the wall reflect some men lifting weights. Right in the middle of the room, one of them is wearing a square pad on his abdomen, while the other is aiming for the shield with his kicks. Newly arrived trainees begin their workout with a skipping rope.

The clock signals: time is up. A young, fit man hastily comes forward. He introduces himself as Sacha Hijazi. He then introduces his wife Chantelle and baby daughter Madelyn – they have been sitting on the floor just around the corner.

Hijazi offers a tour around the spacious room. As he shows us around, he explains that the gym is almost fully renovated. There is still a smell of fresh paint and new equipment in the air. A bright blue mat covers the entire floor.

Welcome to Sacha Hijazi’s dream: Ottawa Fight & Fitness gym.

Hijazi has been an instructor at several martial arts gyms for seven years and a personal instructor at various fitness outlets for five years. He is also a Canadian Amateur Muay Thai champion. And now, he is opening his own gym to teach this martial art.

Muay Thai, also known as the Art of Eight Limbs, is an ancient martial art that has been practiced across Thailand for thousands of years. The name Muay, translated from the Sanskrit expression for “to bind together”, describes the Thai version of kickboxing. It engages punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes.

Many legends surround the origins of Muay Thai. One of them tells the story of Siamese soldiers who lost all their weapons in a battle and had to defend themselves with their bodies. As myths were told and heroes emerged, Muay became a part of Thai culture, a national sport, and a form of public entertainment performed during celebrations and festivals.

Hijazi discovered this sport on TV in his Ottawa apartment. The fierce yet elegant moves of fighters in the ring caught a 20-year old Hijazi’s attention. The next day, he was signing up at Bob Carver’s Thai Boxing Academy. Since then, Hijazi says he has been “hooked.”

Vigorous training followed: 10-kilometre, then 20-kilometre morning runs, working out techniques in the gym, and at last, solidifying his skills at evening practices. Soon after, Hijazi started competing in rings across Canada and abroad. He spent time in Thailand – four one-month trips to seven boxing camps. The payoff? On April 26, 2008, at the Nepean Sportsplex, Hijazi was pronounced Canadian Amateur Muay Thai Champion.

Now the big black leather belt he fought for that night is hanging on the gym’s wall, among other awards, diplomas, certificates and commemorative boxing shorts. Hijazi says he has been collecting them because he always dreamed of opening his own gym.

Throughout all those years, while competing in the ring and working as a fitness instructor, an idea of what the gym he wanted to open took shape. Unlike big gym chains, it would be local and small; trainees would receive personal attention. One thing he knew for certain: what he does best, Muay Thai and functional fitness, would be the foundation for his own gym.

“Functional training,” Hijazi explains, “means that when you leave the gym, you’re better equipped to play with the kids, lift heavy boxes, do some gardening and generally perform better in life. It’s also good for professional athletes who want to improve their performance. Muay Thai is the most efficient of martial arts: it’s simple; it’s practical. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from or what your profession is, anybody can do it. It’s a great workout that emphasizes core strength. But it doesn’t only strengthen your body; it also strengthens your spirit. Muay Thai provides tools to tackle life obstacles off the mat too.”

Hijazi explains that Muay Thai has changed his life, and he is sure this martial art will change the lives of many others. Despite common views on boxing as violent and bloody, Hijazi says, Thai boxing is different. It’s about respect, moral ethics, discipline and self-control. Based on his own experience, Hijazi says the sport helped him release aggression and focus his energy. He says Muay Thai made him develop a strong work ethic and taught him that “things don’t come easy.”

These lessons came in handy when he opened his gym. It was not a simple process. Among the many common obstacles to opening – and renovating – a new business, hired contract workers left the gym half-done. And if not for the support of his family, friends and devoted trainees, Hijazi would never have been able to complete the gym and already have some fierce and disciplined practitioners training.

Tariq Ismail, 22, has been training with Hijazi for five years. He says Hijazi has changed his life: “I just moved from Toronto. I was walking around my neighbourhood, and I saw Bob Carver’s Thai Boxing Academy. I walked in and there was Sacha training. He was a beast! I was like… I want to be like him.” Since then, Ismail lost 60 pounds and earned himself a Throwdown In O-Town belt. He is preparing to leave for Thailand, where he will train in a boxing camp for several months.

Angélique Bossy, 30, is from France. She had never tried boxing before coming to Ottawa. But nine months ago, when she met Hijazi, she found an activity that she can enjoy after her post-doctoral work at Natural Resources Canada. “When I first came in, I felt so small with big guys around me,” Bossy laughs. “But I am a strong character. Lots of men can lift 200 pounds, but I don’t care. I like that here you set your own goals.”

But for women who are uncomfortable about training with men, Ottawa Fight and Fitness offers a special female-only class. Hijazi has prepared different levels, ranging from beginner to advanced, as well as additional courses in Kettlebell and TRX – special training programs. Hijazi says everybody should come and try. Official classes started on January 2, 2013.

Hijazi is excited that, at last, his students and new trainees will have a place where they can learn and master Muay Thai, expanding the culture of the ancient art in Ottawa, all in a family-like setting. “The gym is a big part of my life,” Hijazi says, kissing his six-month old daughter. “But she’s the biggest part of all.”

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