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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

High definition for your eyes

Glasses close up

Digital technology has affected almost every aspect of our lives, and now it’s making a big impact on the optical industry. Digitally customized eyeglass lenses are a new technology that could change the way you see – forever.

The traditional manufacturing process starts with a standard, pre-cut lens. This results in glasses that are a close (but not exact) match to your prescription.

Digital manufacturing uses computer-aided design and surfacing to create customized lenses unique to your specific prescription. These digitally surfaced lenses are so accurate it’s like high definition for your eyes!

Digitally customized lenses can benefit anyone who wears glasses. However, people with complex prescriptions and progressive lenses notice the biggest improvements.

Three benefits of digitally customized lenses

  1. Sharper vision. When it comes to matching your prescription, digitally customized lenses are 12 times more accurate than traditional lenses. Since these lenses are designed specifically for you, you’ll notice much sharper vision.
  1. Clear, distortion-free sight. If you wear progressive lenses cut with traditional methods, you may experience distortion in your peripheral vision. Objects around the edges of your glasses can seem blurry or shaky, and you may experience symptoms similar to motion sickness. Digitally customized lenses minimize distortions, helping progressive lens wearers see, and feel, better.
  1. Better night vision. Digitally customized lenses come with a premium anti-reflective coating, which eliminates glare. This is especially helpful for driving at night, when oncoming headlights can be blinding.

Be sure to discuss the benefits of digitally customized lenses with your eye care provider. Our vision clinic offers digitally customized lenses with premium anti-reflective coatings as our standard of care. Give us a call or swing by our clinic if you’d like to learn more!

HWS closed 6/21

Health & Wellness Services will be closed for the rest of Tuesday, June 21. After a water main break at the nearby construction site, our building’s water supply has been shut off. We will resume normal operations tomorrow.

If you need immediate medical care, there are urgent care options available in town. If you aren’t sure whether you should wait until tomorrow, you’re always welcome to call our 24-hour telephone nurse line at 509-335-3575.

Benefits of anti-reflective coatings

Glasses up close

Most people have probably heard of anti-reflective coatings for eyeglass lenses, but are these coatings worth the additional cost? Do they really make your vision sharper and clearer? And how do they work?

What is it?

An anti-reflective coating is a special coating that can be applied to the front and back of eyeglass lenses. Simply stated, anti-reflective lenses cancel out harmful glare by absorbing reflected light, bending it, or both.

Anti-reflective coatings virtually eliminate reflection and glare from your lenses. This allows more light to pass through, helping you to see more clearly.

What are the benefits?

Anti-reflective coatings are especially helpful during prolonged computer use and in low-light conditions, such as driving at night. The glare from oncoming headlights can be blinding for some people.

People with stronger prescriptions benefit even more from anti-reflective coatings, because thicker lenses reflect more light. This is true even for lenses made from specialty high-index material.

Eliminating reflections with an anti-reflective coating also makes lenses look nearly invisible. This allows people to see your eyes and facial expressions more clearly.

Which anti-reflective coating option is best?

There are several different types of anti-reflective coatings and many optical labs have their own brand. To get the most benefits, choose a multi-layer coating instead of a thinner “standard” coating.

Multi-layer coatings are more scratch resistant and come with a hydrophobic coating, which repels dust, water and oils. Because anti-reflective coated lenses are so clear, smudges and finger prints can be more noticeable. For most people, the less frequent need to clean their lenses is worth the extra cost for a hydrophobic coating.

Questions about anti-reflective coatings? You’re always welcome to stop by our vision clinic for advice on selecting glasses that are right for you.

Executive director candidate presents vision

Renee Coleman-Mitchell, M.P.H., a candidate for the position of executive director of Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, will visit campus next Monday. As part of the selection process, the candidate will give a presentation open to the WSU community.

In the presentation, the candidate has been asked to “describe their vision for Student Health and Wellness / Counseling and Psychological Services, including the role that this unit plays in the strategic goals for the division of Student Affairs and for Washington State University.”

We invite you to learn more by attending the presentation and reviewing the candidate’s bio below.

Renee Coleman-Mitchell, M.P.H.
Monday, June 20th
3:00-4:00 pm – CUE 202
View bio

Evaluation forms will be available to provide feedback and comments. If you have questions about the search process, please contact Debbie Senter at 335-2610 or dsenter@wsu.edu.

Why blue light is harmful to your eyes

Students looking at smartphones

What is blue light, anyway?

Sunlight contains 25-30 percent blue light, so some blue light is natural. Other sources of blue light include fluorescent light bulbs, computer monitors, tablets, readers and smartphones. We all know that too much exposure to ultraviolet light causes sunburn. Since blue light is next to violet on the light spectrum, it has some harmful effects as well.

More research is needed to find out how much blue light is harmful to our eyes. But, since eyes are not very good at blocking blue light, many eye care providers are concerned that additional blue light exposure from digital devices may increase our risk of macular degeneration later in life.

What are the effects of blue light?

Blue light from digital devices creates visual “noise” which reduces contrast and can cause digital eye strain. Nearly 70 percent of adults who regularly use media devices report experiencing some symptoms of digital eyestrain! But very few do anything to avoid or relieve symptoms.

Symptoms can include: tired eyes, shoulder pain, headache, fatigue, eye irritation and pain, blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, tearing, dry eyes and trouble focusing.

What can help reduce digital eyestrain?

  • 20-20-20 rule. Try taking a screen break every 20 minutes, and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blue light blocking app. Try f.lux, or Twilight. iPhone users have a blue light blocking feature that comes with the newest update.
  • Blue-blocking filter. Wearing eyeglass lenses with blue blocking filters can help reduce strain.
  • Anti-reflective coatings. Using eyeglasses with anti-reflective coatings eliminates reflections and glare. This reduces the harmful effects of blue light.
  • Special computer eyewear. Gunnar Optiks make amber-colored lenses that filter blue light and add contrast to define shapes and sharpen detail. These lenses can also help prevent dry eyes and irritation from too much screen time.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about special computer eyewear, talk to your eye care provider or stop by the Health & Wellness Services vision clinic. At our clinic you can try on Gunnar eyewear and experience its blue light blocking benefits.

Understanding gender-based violence

Group of students hugging

It’s important to talk about violence because it can happen to anyone. Violence impacts students of all sexes, races and ethnicities. Victims and perpetrators can be people of any gender. And violence can happen in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.

Gender-based violence includes intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual assault. Sometimes these types of violence are hard to spot. Understanding them can help us identify violence and respond. By learning more about violence, we can all help create a safer campus community and ensure every student has a healthy and safe experience at WSU.

Intimate partner violence is when someone uses power to gain or maintain control over another person. Intimate partner violence can take on many names – dating violence, domestic violence and partner violence – but it’s all the same thing: a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship. Many people initially think of physical abuse. But intimate partner violence can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.

Someone who is trying to gain or maintain power and control over their partner might minimize the abuse and that person’s response to it. They might say things like “you’re being too sensitive,” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” In 2015, 7.7 percent of Cougs said they were in an emotionally abusive intimate relationship in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of intimate partner violence include:

  • Threats or intimidation
  • Possessiveness
  • Harassment
  • Humiliation
  • Limiting independence
  • Isolation

Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment or any other course of conduct that causes a reasonable person to feel afraid. People are most likely to be stalked by someone they know, such as a friend, current or former partner, acquaintance, or someone they met online. 3.9 percent of Cougs reported being stalked in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of stalking include:

  • Repeated/unwanted emails, texts, phone calls, DMs
  • Showing up where someone is because they know that person’s schedule
  • Monitoring emails, texts, phone calls, social media accounts
  • Sending unwanted gifts to someone
  • Contacting or posting about someone on social media
  • Using friends and/or family to get information about someone

Sexual assault is any sexual activity lacking consent. 9 percent of Cougs reported being touched sexually without their consent in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Sexual assault includes a wide range of behaviors such as:

  • Any non-consensual physical contact
  • Sharing nude photos
  • Filming someone
  • Groping, touching
  • Making sexual comments (incl. catcalling, sexting, comments on social media)
  • Attempted or completed rape

As Cougs, we play an active role in helping reduce violence on our campus. And we want to support our friends when they reach out to us for help.

If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, there are a number of confidential and non-confidential resources on campus and in the community that can help. The Office for Equal Opportunity can help with implementing personal safety measures and/or making a report.

WSU doesn’t tolerate any forms of violence. If you experience any of these forms of violence, know that it’s not your fault, and we’re here to help.

WSU’s ACHA-NCHA statistics are comparable to universities nationwide. If you want more information on statistics pertaining to gender-based violence, ACHA has a position statement which includes nationwide figures.

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive the latest news and updates on how we can end violence in our community.

Consent and sex: What you need to know

Close up to two peoples' shoes

College students around the country have lots of questions about consent and sex. So let’s talk about it. WSU has a specific definition of consent when it comes to sexual activity: it must be clear, knowing, and voluntary. Consent is important because it involves giving and getting permission. This ensures both people feel comfortable and makes the experience that much better.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to have an awkward conversation that completely ruins the moment or sign a contract to get consent. Getting clear, knowing, voluntary consent is easy. Getting and giving consent is ongoing and involves checking in with your partner both verbally and non-verbally. For example, ask yourself:

  • Do they look happy to be there?
  • Do they say “yes” when you ask if they like what is happening?
  • Do they know what they are consenting to?

Alcohol or drug use can impact the ability to give consent.  When someone is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, they lose the ability to be fully aware of what’s going on around them. If someone doesn’t know what’s going on, then they’re unable to give consent. Ask yourself, “Do I feel comfortable letting this person drive right now?”  If your answer is not a definitive and instant ”yes”, then it’s a good time to step back and assess whether or not that person is able to give consent.

In a nutshell, consent means giving and getting permission to engage in a sexual activity.  It means you and your partner both really want to be doing what you’re doing, and you’re both excited about it and enjoy it. Getting and giving consent is about being a good partner and making sure everyone is in agreement.

Want to learn more? Check out this video by sex educator Laci Green entitled, Wanna Have Sex? (Consent 101). (Please note this video includes strong language and sexual content.) Check back in the fall for more opportunities to learn about consent!

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive the latest news and updates on how we can end violence in our community.

Parents: Talk to your student about relationships

Dad and son talking

We strive to educate our students about violence prevention, but this is something we cannot do alone. We need parents, caregivers and mentors to join conversations about violence prevention and healthy relationships. We need your help.   

You may be surprised to learn that teens rely on parents, rather than friends, for guidance about these issues. We encourage you to have open conversations with your student—regardless of their gender—about dating, sexual relationships, healthy boundaries and consent. The key is to let your Coug know they can always come to you if they have questions or need support.

If you’ve already had conversations about healthy relationships with your student, we encourage you to continue.  For many, having these conversations isn’t easy and we recognize that.  It can be difficult and sometimes awkward to talk with your student about violence prevention and relationships.  But we promise it’s absolutely worth it.

To get the conversation started, keep it simple:

  • Look for opportunities to weave topics of sex, gender, dating and communication into everyday conversations. You could talk about a TV show, news story or blog post that relates to these topics, and ask your student what they think about it.
  • Talk about consent, and the university’s definition of consent in sexual interactions.
  • Reinforce that Cougs take action when they see someone in a risky situation or someone who needs help.
  • Talk about values your family shares, and what these look like in dating and sexual relationships.
  • Review WSU’s policy prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
  • Ask about the Safety on Campus workshop your student attended during Alive!
  • Talk about boundaries, and let your student know that no one has the right to push them further than they want.

Even though your student is now an adult and has moved away to college, you still play a vital role in influencing them to make healthy decisions throughout life.

By educating yourself about this important issue, you will be better prepared should your student ever come to you asking questions about how to handle a particular situation.  Visit oeo.wsu.edu to learn more about the university’s process for handling instances of gender-based violence.

Get relief for itchy eyes

Students standing outside

Dry, itchy eyes bothering you this summer? You’re not the only one! About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States have seasonal allergies. In addition to symptoms of sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, many allergy sufferers also experience swollen eyelids and itchy, watery, red eyes.

If you have these symptoms, here are a few tips on how to get relief for your eyes:

  • Splash your eyes with icy cold water for about 5 minutes when you first get up in the morning. This helps wash away allergens and reduce puffiness and itching.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes! Rubbing your eyes can intensify feelings of itchiness.
  • Limit your exposure to common allergens. Keep your windows closed during high pollen periods, and use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after petting animals. Pet dander is one of the most common triggers for eye allergies.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to help stop pollen from getting in your eyes.

There are many over-the-counter remedies available to help relieve red, itchy, watery eyes. Decongestants are eye drops that reduce redness from eye allergies by narrowing the blood vessels in the eye. Using these for too long can actually increase swelling and redness, so don’t use them for more than 2-3 days a time. Oral antihistamines are another option that can be mildly effective in relieving itching, but they can also cause dry eyes and may worsen eye allergy symptoms.

One of the best remedies to try is artificial tears. Artificial tears will temporarily wash allergens from the eye and help reduce that dry, irritated feeling. You can use these drops as often as needed for relief. Storing them in the refrigerator to keep them cool can be even more soothing.

Make sure to choose preservative-free artificial tears to avoid irritating your eyes further. A good brand to try is Alaway by Bausch & Lomb. These can be found at many pharmacies, and we also carry them in our vision clinic. Come visit us in the Washington building to pick some up!