Ask the Experts

Top Doctors Answer Common Questions About Health

Does phone usage affect sleep? Is it safe to let unvaccinated children play with your child?

By Staff January 19, 2020

The blue light in computer screens and phones affects your circadian rhythm.

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Is my phone keeping me awake?

“When you look at a phone or computer screen, you go from blinking 15 times per minute to just five or seven times, which can create problems with dry eyes. The blue light in computer screens and phones also affects your circadian rhythm. You want to have blue light during the daytime because it makes the brain want to stay more active. We’re wired to that [part of the] spectrum. You don’t want as much of it as it becomes nighttime. We don’t recommend people use computers two hours before bed. Some people can and they’re fine, but if you’re already having [sleep] problems, it can make them worse.” —Neurologist Julio Cantero

Is there an effective sunscreen that’s also environmentally safe?

“There are two types of sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays. Physical sunscreens act like a shield, deflecting them. Sunscreen ingredients enter the water through swimming, plumbing and industrial waste. There’s some evidence that chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone could have an adverse effect on the environment—specifically, it’s been associated with bleaching of coral reefs in laboratory settings. It’s believed that there are many factors behind the bleaching, and more research is still necessary, but that concern has led to the banning of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate in Hawaii. If you’re concerned about these potential environmental effects, I recommend a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients.” —Dermatologist Megan Bogart

Will cataract surgery help me see road signs at night?

“Cataracts cause glare around lights, which is why some patients can no longer drive at night. Cataracts also cause loss of color perception, which returns when the cataract is removed. The [laser] surgery only takes 10 minutes without any needle for anesthesia, only eye drops to numb the eye, and no bandage afterwards. The clouded lens is replaced with an artificial lens that has a prescription either for distance vision or near vision, whichever the patient chooses before surgery. People who have worn glasses most of their lives can end up not needing glasses.”  —Ophthalmologist Harry Grabow

Should I still take a daily aspirin to lower my risk of heart attack?

“A lot has been said in the media lately about aspirin’s benefit or lack thereof in certain people, particularly those at low risk for heart disease. It appears that the risks [of aspirin] outweigh the minimal benefits in this low-risk population. What’s frustrated some of us in the medical community is the failure to emphasize that it was a low-risk patient population being studied. In fact, aspirin still carries unquestionable cardio-protective benefits for patients at high risk for heart disease, or who have already had a cardiac event.” Cardiologist Hakim Morsli

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Is it safe to let unvaccinated children play with my child?

“If your child has had all vaccinations up through 15 months of age and doesn’t have a serious underlying illness, then it would be relatively safe. The ideal would be [your child] having all shots through kindergarten age. If your child had any underlying immune compromise or was receiving chemotherapy, then I would strongly advise against contact. The best thing parents can do is get the childhood vaccinations recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, using the current schedule. I’ve worked in other countries, and I’ve seen the devastation preventable infectious diseases can cause. I feel so strongly that I tell parents if they had to choose between seeing me and getting the vaccinations, I would hands-down choose the vaccinations.” —Pediatrician John Wassenaar

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