Four ways to spring clean your plate this season

wmaster890/iStock(NEW YORK) -- You want to eat healthier, but the question you may be struggling with is, "How?"

If cooking isn’t your thing or time is hard to come by, Dawn Jackson Blatner -- a registered dietitian nutritionist -- is here to share tips on how to spring clean your plate and instantly make healthier choices in your diet.

To help give your body a clean slate, these four quick-and-easy steps can kick-start your healthier body this spring and beyond:

1. Frozen green juice bags

Sipping on green juice floods tons of powerful nutrients into your body. However, most of us don’t have expensive juicers or enough time in the day to make fresh green juice every morning. But the "Frozen Green Juice Bags" hack is a fast and less-expensive way to enjoy the beverage.

Add these three ingredients into a single quart-sized bag and then store it in your freezer:

  • 1/2 lemon, peeled: Lemon contains immune-boosting vitamin C. Plus, sour foods may reset taste buds to help you crave less sweet stuff.
  • 1/2 cups of spinach: It seems like spinach is good for just about everything. It has disease-fighting antioxidants vitamins A, C and E; calcium and magnesium for bone health; iron and vitamin K for healthy blood; carotenoids for healthy eyes and skin; and potassium for heart health.
  • 1/2 cup of berries: Berries provide antioxidant-rich sweetness. Plus, they are fiber superstars.

When you want to enjoy a quick green juice, just blend the bagged contents with a cup of water for 15 seconds, creating a delicious, refreshing and sippable drink.

2. Snack makeovers

Healthy eating isn’t just about what we eat during meals -- we also have to factor in all the snacking we do.

Vegetables are the key to better-for-you snacking, but they don’t have to be boring. Here are some fun ways you can add more veggies to your daily diet:

Asparagus and prosciutto

Asparagus is a spring veggie, meaning it’s at its peak flavor and its lowest cost during the season. When combined with prosciutto, you can eat them raw or -- if you like heat -- can pop them into a broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Jicama and guacamole

Jicama -- which is high in both fiber and water -- is low-calorie, filling, extra-hydrating and tasty when skewered and paired with avocado-based guacamole.

Better spinach dip and veggies

Spinach dip makes snacking on vegetables more fun and more delicious. But be warned: traditional spinach dip is made with mayonnaise and sour cream, both of which can be packed with calories.

A better-for-you version is made with Greek yogurt, so not only is it lower in fat, but it’s also higher in protein.

3. Lighten up portions

It’s not enough to just choose healthier foods -- we also have to choose healthier amounts of what we eat.

Instead of obsessing with counting, measuring or tracking food, an easier way to monitor what you're consuming is to use the "visual wisdom" of your eyes.

To help do this, use a divided plate -- a trick that helped Blatner and contestant Jasmin win the weight-loss reality show My Diet is Better Than Yours.

Every time you eat, devote a fourth of your plate to protein, a fourth to whole grains or potatoes, half to vegetables, and add a little fat topping such as oil, dressing, cheese, nuts, seeds or avocado. This easy step will help you to better balance your meals.

Some sample menus you can enjoy on a divided plate include:

  • A burger with no bun, baked sweet potato fries, salad and dressing
  • Turkey meatballs, quinoa-based pasta, pasta sauce and broccoli, and Parmesan
  • Grilled chicken strips, brown rice, stir-fry veggies and crushed peanuts

4. Sugar cleanout

One of the hardest habits to give up is caving into your sweet tooth.

When you aren’t eating sugar, fat from healthy places such as nut butter can help you feel satisfied. And when you aren’t eating sugar, fruit has natural sweetness that can help you feel satisfied.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Girl gives bald American Girl dolls to young cancer patients

Valerie Fricker/Peace Love Bracelets Foundation(ALPHARETTA, Ga.) -- An 11-year-old is spreading smiles by delivering bald American Girl dolls to kids fighting cancer.

With help from her mom, Bella Fricker, 11, of Alpharetta, Georgia, raises money to buy the dolls and delivers them to hospitalized patients.

"I'm very proud of her," mom Valerie Fricker told ABC News' Good Morning America. "She loves meeting the little girls and giving them dolls."

Fricker, a mom of three, said Bella launched the Peace Love Bracelets Foundation over a year ago.

The fifth grader began making bracelets and selling them on Fricker's personal Facebook page. Within a few hours, she raised $300 and was able to purchase three dolls.

"It became so excessive, we couldn't keep up with it," Fricker said, adding that Bella still makes bracelets but has primarily moved on to holding fundraising events.

Fricker said Bella developed a desire to help kids with cancer after a friend of hers lost her life after fighting the disease.

So far, Bella has gifted 38 dolls to children. She's made visits to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston in Georgia and more.

Nevaeh Williams, a 10-year-old from Atlanta, is currently in remission after fighting a rare cancer called desmoplastic small round cell tumor, or DSRCT. Nevaeh received a bald American Girl doll from Bella in 2017 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston while she was undergoing her second round of chemotherapy, her mother Alana Williams told GMA.

"She has always wanted an American Girl doll and she really needed it in that moment," Williams said. "She brought the doll with her during her treatment and it comforted her."

Williams went on, "She's currently six months cancer free. Now that her hair has grown back we'll add hair to the doll."

Fricker said Bella is doing a large fundraising event in September and hopes to buy more dolls. Bella has Type 1 diabetes and would like to give American Girl diabetes care kits, which is made for dolls, to kids who also have diabetes.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


New medication could help moms with postpartum depression

Highwaystarz-Photography/iStockBY: DR. LINDA DROZDOWICZ

(NEW YORK) -- For most mothers a new baby is the most wonderful thing in the world. But for one in nine new mothers, that joy can be rapidly diminished by the crippling menace of postpartum depression (PPD).

Zulresso (brexanolone), a new medication from Sage Therapeutics, may help. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first medication specifically for PPD and the company anticipates it will be available for use under prescription and strict supervision as early as June.

PPD is more than your run of the mill “baby blues.” Symptoms of PPD may include depressed mood, difficulty bonding with your baby, intense anger or anxiety, fear that you’re not a good mother and thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, among other things.

Current treatment can include talk therapy or antidepressants, according to the National Institutes of Health. While a number of antidepressants may be helpful for PPD, they can take weeks to work.

Sage Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Steve Kanes told ABC News that his company's medication will be a quicker fix: women with PPD will get a single, 60-hour intravenous (IV) infusion of Zulresso at a local health care facility.

The results in Phase III trials of the drug have been positive.

“It works over and over and over. There have been no failed results,” said Kanes.

Of the 130 people who received brexanolone in the Phase III trials, five became excessively drowsy. Two women in the trials had serious adverse events, such as loss of consciousness and passing out, that were treatment related.

“Because of the potential for near loss of consciousness or loss of consciousness, the FDA in November publicly stated it would like to administer a REMS program for Zulresso,” Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis, the director of Women’s Behavioral Health at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York, told ABC News. Deligiannidis was involved in Phase II and Phase III of the clinical trials.

According to the FDA, REMS is a drug safety program that can be required for certain medications with serious safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.

Nicole Cirino, a psychiatrist who specializes in pregnant and postpartum women and the director of the division of Women’s Mental Health and Wellness at Oregon Health & Science University, worries about initial access to the Zulresso medication.

“I think it’s a huge deal and I have very little concern about safety," Cirino, who was not affiliated with the study, told ABC News. "Logistics and access will be the bigger issue. It’s a psychiatric medication requiring an inpatient facility like an obstetrical or general hospital floor, and that is expensive, so insurance companies will put up barriers.”

Zulresso could cost as much as $20,000 $35,000 per treatment.

As for being hooked up to an IV for nearly three days, Cirino said that should not deter some women.

“I think a lot of women are concerned about having to take a daily antidepressant that doesn’t work for three to five weeks, so this might appeal to some women in that it has a fast response," she said. "The placebo response in this trial was pretty high. For a mom to come in and get that attention and help with her child over 60 hours with a benefit at the end is OK.”

Zulresso is different from most antidepressants people use, both in the way it’s administered and in the way that it works. Instead of targeting serotonin, it is a progesterone metabolite that works through the GABA receptors in your brain.

Stephanie Hathaway, a mother of two who participated in a brexanolone trial as a patient, said she experienced immediate results from the medication.

“It was a painless experience,” she told ABC News. "I did things I hadn’t done in six months [of PPD]. I called my husband and he said, 'I haven’t heard the ‘you’ in your voice in so long.'”

Linda Drozdowicz, M.D., is a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Yale Child Study Center and member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


15-pound newborn baby girl a 'double miracle'

Joy Buckley(ELMIRA, N.Y.) -- There's so much about Harper Buckley to love.

The 15-pound baby born on March 12 at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, New York, is a "double miracle," her mom told "Good Morning America."

Joy and Norman Buckley struggled to conceive.

"I was only ever given a 15 percent chance of getting pregnant naturally without the help of IVF," Joy Buckley said. "So when my husband and I found out in May of 2016 that we were expecting our first little miracle, we were overjoyed."

The couple are also parents to Heaven, 7 and Chase, 2.

"Then when we found out we were pregnant with Harper it became the second miracle because the likelihood of it happening twice was even less than the first time." Joy Buckley told "GMA."

The other miracle: On a family vacation, the family was hit by a tractor trailer. "That included baby Harper who at the time we didn't know we were expecting," she said.

As for Harper's adorable chubbiness, it wasn't expected.

"The last ultrasound showed 12 pounds, and 11 ounces. But she was much bigger than anticipated." said Buckley, whose pregnancy was monitored very closely because she is a type 2 diabetic.

Harper is currently in the NICU, her dad, Norman Buckley, told "GMA." She may be home at the end of the week.

"She is improving daily," her mom said. "We are just waiting on the oxygen levels to improve and her to be able to bottle feed. I will be so happy when we can go home as a family. I miss my other two children and cannot wait to be home together."

Her dad said, "She's a blessing to our whole family."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Apple Watch can help doctors diagnose atrial fibrillation, researchers say


(NEW YORK) -- Last year, Ed Dentel’s Apple Watch informed him that he had an irregular heartbeat. It was right, and potentially saved his life

Now scientists are revealing the research behind the innovative technology. Their study, funded by Apple, Inc., was presented at a conference of the American College of Cardiology.

Stanford researchers have shown that the watches can detect atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm that has the potential to cause stroke. Atrial fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, and affects up to 6 million people in the U.S. Often, those affected have no symptoms, or experience mild palpitations in the chest. For some, the first sign is a debilitating stroke.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart does not beat in a synchronized, regular way. Instead, it quivers. Blood can pool in the upper chambers of the heart, and because it is more stagnant than usual, a clot can form. If the clot dislodges from within the heart, it can go to the brain and cause a stroke. Up to 20 percent of strokes that involve inadequate blood flow to the brain are due to atrial fibrillation.

The study on the Apple Watches enrolled over 400,000 adults who already owned an iPhone 5S or a newer version, along with an Apple Watch Series 1-3.

Participants downloaded an app on their phones that used the watch’s light sensors to monitor their heart rate over about 8 months. If the app detected 5 successive irregular heartbeats, it set off an alarm, alerting patients to contact a doctor through the app. Those who did so were then sent a patch that they wore for about one week to record their heart’s electric activity with an electrocardiogram, or EKG. This could confirm whether there was truly atrial fibrillation present or not. After the patch was sent back and analyzed, a phone discussion was held with a doctor to review the results.

Only 0.5 percent of people set off an alarm. The researchers concluded that, if people received an alarm notification, they were 84 percent likely to have atrial fibrillation. Based on survey data collected at end of study, over half of the people who received notifications eventually contacted a provider outside the study. About one-third started a new medication and were referred to a specialist for further care.

“We as clinicians, the onus is on us to start understanding the technology that patients are coming to us with,” Dr. Marco Perez, a Stanford electrophysiologist and author of the study, said at a press conference.

There was concern among cardiologists at the conference that the Apple Watch would have limited appeal for clinical use, considering the starting price at $279.

The International Data Corporation (IDC), an independent agency, has estimated that Apple sold over 8 million watches in the last three months.

The Stanford researchers are still looking into what other abnormal heart rhythms were detected beside atrial fibrillation, and are interested in studying whether the Apple Watch can contribute to the number of strokes prevented.

While more research needs to be done before cardiologists can entirely rely on Apple Watches to detect atrial fibrillation, it is a potential warning system for those that have the watch.

If you suspect you have an irregular heartbeat you should see your physician, who can recommend further testing.

Dr. Leila Haghighat is an internal medicine resident from Yale New Haven Hospital who also works with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Doctor shares his top five foods to eat to help fight disease

ALEAIMAGE/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The age-old saying goes "you are what you eat," but one doctor is out with a new book that is taking that notion a step further, arguing that some foods you eat can help you beat disease.

Dr. William Li talked about his new book, Eat to Beat Disease, in an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America, saying we have completely underestimated the role that the foods we eat can play in combating illness. Plus, he shares his top five foods to go for the next time you hit up the supermarket.

"The time has come now to really ... get rid of that confusion between food and health," Li said. "Our bodies respond to what we put inside it."

"We can take food seriously like we take medicine using the same rigor, using the same science, using the same demand for evidence," he added.

Li's book doesn't contain a weight-loss program and isn't about what to avoid, rather it's a guide to integrate some of the hundreds of health-boosting foods that he says research shows can starve cancer, reduce your risk of dementia and help fight dozens of avoidable diseases.

If there is one thing Li wants people to take away from the book, he says it is to eat more fresh, plant-based foods and less processed foods.

Dr. Li's top five foods to help fight disease:


"Soy's developed a scary reputation because some people believe that an estrogen-like compound that's found in soy can cause breast cancer," Li said, adding that new research, however, "is completely turning that fact around."

Soy contains a plant estrogen that is "nothing like human estrogen," he explained. "In fact, it can counter its effects," he added.

Dark chocolate

Dessert lovers, rejoice. Dark chocolate, in moderation, can actually be good for you, according to Li.

"Chocolate contains these polyphenols that actually can help activate cells in our body, including our stem cells," Li said.


Tomatoes are a "great source of vitamins and other nutrients, and they contain lycopene," Li said. "Lycopene is an anti-angiogenic and blood vessel, cancer-starving substance."

Sourdough bread

Sourdough is made with a "natural bacteria called lactobacillus rudori," according to Li. This bacteria "actually helps to build our immune system," he added, making it a great choice if you are looking for a healthy bread option.


Mangoes are "amazing" according to Li, "because they actually activate all five of our health defense systems at the same time."

Li said the goal of his method is to activate those five health defense systems in your body by eating five disease-fighting foods five times a day.

"It's about diversity. It's about having choice," he said. "Check off the ones that you already like, then ... you have a head start on health because you're starting with what you love."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Toddler undergoes open-heart surgery to put a 'winter coat' inside her heart

Northwestern Medicine(WINFIELD, Ill.) -- Illinois toddler Eloise Hoffman is all set for the cold weather after a "winter coat" was placed inside her heart during surgery when she was just a few days old.

"I like to tell people that she's got a little winter coat in there, keeping her heart warm," her father Matt Hoffman said of a piece of Gore-Tex, a material commonly used in jackets and coats, that was used on Eloise's heart.

It all started when doctors detected that Eloise had a heart murmur during a regular appointment three weeks after she was born. When they went back for a checkup, they knew it was serious.

"We were like, 'Do we schedule a follow-up?,' and [the doctor] said, 'No, you have to go to the hospital now. We may chopper you in or via ambulance.' So then it all sort of sunk in," Hoffman recalled.

Eloise was diagnosed with truncus arteriosus, a rare condition where she was born with only one blood vessel to pump blood out of her heart instead of the usual two. This often causes oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood to mix together, and can cause the lungs to fill with fluid.

"Typically, if this is left untreated, usually this is fatal. Usually within the first year of life," pediatric cardiologist Michael Perez said of Eloise's condition.

Needless to say, her parents were worried.

"Three weeks after she was born, she was going to have this [open-heart] surgery ... so that was terrifying," Eloise's mother Krista Hoffman said.

But the surgery went off without a hitch at Lurie Children's at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, and her parents couldn't be more proud of their resilient little daughter, who just happens to have a small piece of Gore-Tex in her heart now.

The Gore-Tex acts as a conduit to compensate for her singular pathway out of the heart.

"It's like a Columbia coat ... it's visually the same thing. It's all taken care of," Matt Hoffman joked.

She will probably have to have another surgery as she outgrows her current conduit but it's doing great now.

"She's an amazing little munchkin. She's gone through a lot," her mom said. "I think her scar is awesome. I think she should wear it with pride. I think it's a amazing what she went through. She's like a little fireball."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Educational and social disparities in women with male twins: Study

iStock/kckate16(NEW YORK) -- Does it matter if your twin is a male or a female? Maybe.

Researchers from the Norwegian School of Economics, Northwestern University and Emory University looked at what happens if a female shares a womb with a male twin.

The results are surprising.

They found that 30 years or more after birth, there were significant educational and social disparities when comparing females with male twins to females with female twins.

Females who shared the womb with a male had higher high school and college dropout rates, were less likely to get married, had fewer children, were less likely to be working and earned less in the workforce.

Researchers used national registries in Norway to study over 13,000 twin births between 1967 and 1978.

Why it matters: Twin births on the rise

The rate of twin births has increased in the U.S., from 18.9 per 1,000 births in 1980 to 33.4 per 1,000 births in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on data from Florida gathered between 1992 and 2002, the researchers estimate that in the U.S., the percentage newborn females with a male twin rose from 0.6 percent of total births in 1971 to 1.1 percent in 2010.

One possible explanation: It happens in the womb

Researchers believe their findings for female twins with a male counterpart are due to effects while in the womb (prenatal), rather than the social effects of growing up with a brother (postnatal).

In order to control for postnatal environmental effects, researchers looked at group of female twins whose brothers died during their first year of life.

“The biggest confounder in prior studies is that they don’t look at the postnatal exposure of growing up with a brother,” says Dr. Krzysztof Karbownik, one of the researchers and a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research. In fact, he said, prior to their analysis they were “pretty sure [the effects] would be related to postnatal causes.”

The researchers concluded that the likely culprit is elevated testosterone that female twins are exposed to in the womb, though they do not have any testosterone-specific data to prove this.

“Although we can nail down that this is a prenatal versus postnatal effect, the exact channel of this prenatal effect is unclear,” said Dr. Karbownik. He noted that based on prior studies, changes in morphology, physiology or behavior could be the cause of the long-term effects they saw in female twins.

What this means going forward: Don’t “freak out”

“I don’t think people should freak out…we are really trying to make it clear that this is not a paper about in vitro fertilization,” said Dr. Karbownik. “These are population averages…nobody should apply this to their individual fertility decisions.”

It is important to keep in mind that this study only looked at a group of patients in Norway, so we can’t assume the same results for the North American population. It also only examined a few metrics of long-term outcomes -- perhaps female twins with male twin brothers excel in other areas of life that were not studied.

Dr. Karbownik emphasized that “gender norms” is something that is constantly changing and evolving. It could be the case that if we looked at the data 20 years down, we may see no effect at all.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Aspirin: The controversy and new guidelines

smartstock/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Aspirin -- is it safe to take?

Cardiologists have recently put out new guidelines recommending that a person’s risk of life-threatening bleeding should be factored into their decision whether or not to start taking aspirin to prevent a first-ever heart attack or stroke.

These guidelines, published in the medical journal Circulation, are in line with recent studies that have raised an issue with the medication.

How aspirin works

Aspirin is made of salicylic acid. It works by stopping COX-1, a specialized protein in our body that activates a type of cell called a platelet. These are found in our blood and are responsible for making it sticky. When platelets pile up, a clot can form. If the clot forms in the heart, a heart attack can occur; if the clot forms in the brain, a stroke is possible.

By intervening on platelet function, aspirin can potentially prevent a heart attack or stroke -- but the blood can also become less sticky, and a person can become prone to bleeding in general. In certain areas of the body, specifically the gut and brain, bleeding can be deadly. A history of certain medical conditions like kidney failure, liver failure and age makes the risks of bleeding even higher.

Aspirin protects the heart and brain, and should be taken for secondary prevention

Decades of data support the use of aspirin for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, meaning a repeat event like a heart attack or stroke. In people with blockages of blood vessels in the heart and brain, including those with prior heart attacks or stroke, the rate of repeat events drops by 1.5 percent each year aspirin is taken regularly.

Despite the risk of bleeding that still exists, the benefit is so great that aspirin is generally recommended to be taken as a life-long medication.

“It’s an unwavering, workhorse agent for these people,” Dr. Paul Grubel, an interventional cardiologist and research director at the Inova Center in Falls Church, Virginia, told ABC News.

He hopes the updated guidelines, which discuss possible risks to taking aspirin as a primary prevention -- preventing something that hasn’t happened yet -- don’t cause those people with prior heart attacks and strokes to all of a sudden stop their aspirin regime.

“If there’s any confusion that patients have, they should not make changes in this therapy -- or any medical therapy -- without talking to their physician first,” Dr. Grubel said.

The benefit of aspirin for primary prevention is murky

The evidence for taking aspirin is much less compelling when it’s taken as a primary prevention, meaning to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. Its use remains contentious because the bleeding risks more closely match potential benefit.

A large study in 2009, and three studies in 2018 called ARRIVE, ASCEND and ASPREE, showed that rates of significant bleeding related to aspirin were similar or even greater than the rate at which it reduced a first time heart attack or stroke.

The latest guidelines

The new guidelines published by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association in Circulation suggest that for a select group of people, aspirin taken for primary prevention may be appropriate. This is in line with recommendations put forth by other medical groups.

These new guidelines recommend considering low-dose “baby” aspirin every day, between 75 and 100 milligrams, in people between the ages of 40 and 70 who are at high cardiovascular risk but low bleeding risk, as determined by providers.

Ultimately, starting aspirin is an individual decision that should be made between patients and their care providers, with careful consideration of the risks and benefits. If you have questions about whether or not you should be taking aspirin, you should speak with your healthcare provider first.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Blue-light-blocking glasses are gaining in popularity: Here's everything you should know about them

iStock/twinsterphotoDR. AMRIT K. KAMBOJ

(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve recently gone shopping for a new pair of eyeglasses, there’s a chance you may have come across some blue-light-blocking glasses, which seem to be everywhere, from online to brick-and-mortar optical stores.

The reason behind their popularity may be that more people are using digital devices, including cell phones and computers, which emit blue light. In fact, one study found that the average worker spends about 1,700 hours a year in front of a computer screen, and that doesn’t even include the time they spend looking at other screens when they’re not at work.

“Nine out of 10 people use digital devices for two or more hours each day,” Dr. Mark Jacquot, an optometrist and vice president of Vision Care Operations for LensCrafters, told ABC News.

Whether the glasses work, however, is unclear — expert opinions vary. Dr. Sunir J. Garg, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and ophthalmologist at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, says that there hasn’t been much research on their effectiveness and with them being so popular now, “you wonder where they came from.”

So, here is what you should know about blue-light-blocking glasses.

Several retailers offer blue-light-blocking glasses.

Many companies that sell eyeglasses, including Warby Parker, Eyebuydirect and LensCrafters, offer different options for blue-light-blocking glasses. LensCrafters offers two different options: one called Blue IQ lenses, which block about 52 percent of blue light, and another called Blue IQ Clear lenses, which block about 20 percent of blue light.

Jacquot said that the Blue IQ lenses offer three times more protection against blue light compared to standard anti-reflective coated lenses, which only block 9 to 17 percent of blue light.

Blue light has been around for a while and electronic devices are not the only source

Computers and cell phones are not the only sources of blue light in our everyday lives. The largest source of blue light is actually sunlight. Blue light exposure from screens is much less than that from sunlight.

“People have been exposed to blue light for as long as they have been around,” Garg said. “The eye has done a good job of filtering this over time through evolution.”

Blue light may be connected to sleep issues.

While the recommended amount of sleep for adults is seven to nine hours per night, one in three adults does not get enough sleep. Electronic devices may share part of the blame for poor sleep habits.

Blue light from screens can delay the release of melatonin, which is the main sleep-promoting hormone. It can also increase alertness and push back the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. Blue light is not always necessarily bad — some amount of blue light during the day helps keep us awake — but overexposure at night can disrupt sleep.

Jacquot said that blue-light-blocking glasses can help with sleep, and since they don’t block 100 percent of blue light, they shouldn’t cause you to feel sleepy during the day. Habits that can help promote sleep include removing electronic devices from the bedroom and stopping their use one to two hours before lying down. The earlier the better.

Blue-light-blocking glasses might help reduce eye strain.

If you look at a person watching TV or playing a video game, their eyes don’t move a lot. Normally, we blink our eyes about 15 times a minute, but when looking at digital devices, we blink about a third to half as much. This causes our eyes to feel dry and tired and puts a strain on them.

Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome, refers to eye discomfort and vision problems that occur after prolonged use of electronic devices. Jacquot estimates that about 65 percent of people experience symptoms of digital eye strain. He said that this condition is multifactorial with blue light, the reduced blink rate, and extended viewing of screens without breaks all playing a role.

In his experience, Jacquot has found that patients who use blue-light-blocking glasses subjectively feel that their eyes are more comfortable and less fatigued. A recent study, however, failed to show that blue-light-blocking glasses help with symptoms of digital eye strain. Instead, it could be the constant focus on a screen that causes the strain, Garg said.

If you’re trying to reduce eye strain, try sitting at least 25 inches from your computer screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Also, use artificial tears when your eyes feel dry. By breaking the constant attention on the screen, the eyes will feel less strained and more lubricated.

Blue light may not help you sleep, but it probably won’t cause serious eye diseases, either.

While some have suggested a possible link between blue light and macular degeneration, Garg said that “there have been no studies that have shown that blue light causes a problem in people.”

Garg also explained that much of the blue light that we are exposed to on a daily basis is filtered from the cornea and the lens, so the amount that hits the retina is not as much as one might think. He said that the limited research that suggests blue light is harmful to eye structures is based on data from “shining bright light to cells in a petri dish or to animals in levels much higher than we would be exposed to going about our daily lives.”

Blue-light-blocking glasses do not have many side effects.

Blue-light-blocking glasses are not known to have negative health side effects and should not affect your day-to-day function. Historically, there may have been a cosmetic concern regarding a yellow-brown hue that sometimes came with these glasses. However, with advances in the manufacturing process, these concerns have waned. Jacquot said that the Blue IQ lenses have a very light beige tint that most people don’t even notice and the Blue IQ Clear lenses are clear.

Blue-light-blocking glasses are different from single-vision and multifocal glasses.

Single vision glasses are designed to correct distance vision while multifocal glasses correct both distance and near vision. Blue-light-blocking glasses typically apply a special pigment or coating to the lenses to block out some amount of blue light.

More research is needed to better understand the long-term risks of blue light and the benefits of blue-light-blocking glasses. While the AAO does not recommend any special eyewear for digital devices at this time, Jacquot “confidently recommends” them given their potential benefits.

Jacquot emphasized the importance of annual eye exams for everyone and said that people should be careful of “self-diagnosing” themselves. Regular visits to the eye doctor can help identify important vision and health problems, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes and high blood pressure, many of which develop without any symptoms. The AAO recommends that everyone get a baseline eye exam by age 40 and that people over age 65 get an eye exam regularly, even if they have no eye symptoms.

Amrit K. Kamboj, MD, is an internal medicine resident and member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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