The Wellness Corner … by Judith Wallace, RN, FCN
March is National Save Your Vision Awareness Month. For decades, the American Optometic Association has been using this time to raise awareness concerning the need for comprehensive, annual eye evaluations. Many people do not get a full eye exam as long as they can "see to drive" and aren't experiencing obvious eye problems like blurring or distorted vision. Unfortunately, there can be serious eye problems developing long before vision becomes distorted or the eyes painful. As a result, many Americans are suffering with serious eye disorders and are at risk for blindness, simply because they did not have regular eye examinations.
Most people associate an eye evaluation with getting glasses or contact lens prescription, but it includes much more. The doctor will evaluate how the eyes work together and also check for eye diseases. An important part of the exam includes the use of dilating drops (which many people dislike). These drops are necessary, however, in order to evaluate the retina and other critical structures in the eye. These conditions include, but aren't limited to, cataracts (you don't have to be old to get these), glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal disorders, and corneal disorders - all of which steal your vision before you realize it's happening. In addition, the annual eye evaluation will provide important information toward helping your primary care doctor treat your high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases.
You may also be dealing with a pesky eye problem common to so many
people - dry eye disease. Did you know that your optometrist can suggest a number of options for treating this uncomfortable and annoying problem? Dry eye disease, in addition to being uncomfortable, actually distorts your vision. Rather than trying to treat it on your own, see your eye doctor.
There are some other things you can do to save your vision (in addition to the annual exam):
Wear UV Sunglasses: this helps to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Take breaks from digital devices. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.
Eat healthy foods. Yes, mom was right about eating veggies and fruits.
Blink often. People who use a computer tend to blink less frequently and this can lead to dry eyes.
Use eye protection when mowing, or doing other jobs where specks, dust or debris can get into your eyes.
Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Healthy vision is one of our most valued senses. It's so important to keep your eyes healthy. Get that annual exam and take care of your eyes.
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