May is Healthy Vision Month
Think of all the things you do every day that require good eyesight—digging into a great book, driving your kids to school or yourself to work, grocery shopping and meal preparation, helping with homework, watching your favorite television show—the list goes on and on.
Everyone knows it is important to eat right, exercise, and get enough rest. But sometimes, vision is taken for granted. The fact is, it is equally important to take care of your eyes. After all, you only get one set and you will need them your entire lifetime.
May is Healthy Vision Month, and it is the ideal time to shine a spotlight on the wonderfully complex eye. Eyes, it has been said, are the windows to the soul. Let’s explore how to keep them protected and healthy for a lifetime.
Get a Dilated Eye Exam. You might think your vision is fine and your eyes are healthy, but a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to be certain. Common eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no symptoms. A dilated eye exam will detect these diseases in their early stages. It is recommended to have this type of exam annually along with a regular vision screening.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle. An overall healthy life is good for more than just your body; it is good for your eyes as well. Maintaining a healthy weight lowers your risk of developing diabetes, which has been linked to diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.
Know your family’s eye history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since some are hereditary.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
Use Protective Eyewear. Keep your eyes protected when doing chores around the house, playing sports, or on the job. It will prevent injuries. Choices include safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
Wear sunglasses—specifically ones that block 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
Approximately 168.5 million residents in the U.S. use some form of vision-correcting devices. That’s over half of the population in America!
Today’s technology has evolved to a point where patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, or those with ocular diseases that require specialized vision correction options, all have several great alternatives to maximize visual performance.
Glasses. In spite of all the other choices for vision correction, many individuals still choose to wear glasses. So how do you know if you need glasses? It all starts with a comprehensive eye exam/vision screening, but some signs you might need glasses include trouble seeing up close or far away, squinting, or headaches. See a therapeutic optometrist to find out more.
Contact Lenses. Contact lenses are small prescription lenses, worn in “contact” with the eye. They are designed to correct refractive errors and maintain ocular health. They float on the tear film layer on the surface of the cornea. Contacts vary in their modality—how often you change them—and also fit different needs, like being adapted for astigmatism.
Refractive Surgery— Refractive surgery is a method for correcting or improving vision. There are various surgical procedures for correcting or adjusting your eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea—the clear, round dome at the front of your eye. Other procedures involve implanting a lens inside your eye. The most widely performed type of refractive surgery is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), where a laser is used to reshape the cornea. The next most common are laser cataract surgery to remove the cloudy film, and the new corneal inlay procedure to address presbyopia.
Don’t Ignore “Floaters” in Your Vision—Retinal detachment is a medical emergency!
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss. Symptoms include an increase in “floaters,” specks of light, and flashes in the field of vision.
A retinal detachment is also more likely to occur in people who:
- Are extremely nearsighted
- Have had a retinal detachment in the other eye
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Have had cataract surgery
- Have had an eye injury
Sources: NEI.NIH.gov, CDC.gov/visionhealth, CooperVision.com
By Tammy Adams