Eye Care

These days most people take the health of their eyesight for granted. “When you’re seeing well and have no irritation, it’s easy to forget about going to the eye doctor,” says Pamela Lowe, OD, FAAO. But preventing eye disease is so important—often, if you wait until you notice a problem, it can be too late. Luckily, there are plenty of simple things you can do each day to keep your sight in tip-top shape.

Here, 10 easy ways to be proactive about your eye health.

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Eye Care-OCCHIALI

These days most people take the health of their eyesight for granted. “When you’re seeing well and have no irritation, it’s easy to forget about going to the eye doctor,” says Pamela Lowe, OD, FAAO. But preventing eye disease is so important—often, if you wait until you notice a problem, it can be too late. Luckily, there are plenty of simple things you can do each day to keep your sight in tip-top shape. Here, 10 easy ways to be proactive about your eye health.

Seems obvious, right? Surprisingly, many people who care about their eyesight aren’t always that good about getting to the doctor. A survey by the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that 85 percent of people valued their sight as their most prized sense, but less than half of that group had had an eye exam in the past two or three years. What gives? “People tend not to think about preventive care…Many diseases affect the eye in such a way that you can see 20/20 until suddenly, one day you can’t,” says Dr. Lowe.

Adults, especially those over 40, should have yearly eye exams, particularly to prevent age-related ocular conditions including macular degeneration (the part of the retina that processes light deteriorates), cataracts (the lens of your eye becomes cloudy) and glaucoma (pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve). Children should have their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months. “It’s important to detect visual problems that could impede a child’s ability to learn,” says Dr. Lowe.

Be sure your optometrist or ophthalmologist knows about what’s medically relevant. “The most important contribution a patient can give me is a thorough and accurate health history,” says Dr. Lowe. Patients often don’t realize that there’s a connection between illnesses in the body and eye issues. Hypertension, blood pressure and diabetes can all be detected by looking in the back of the eye, so “alert your doctor to your risk factors so she can take the right course of action during the exam.” Also mention your hobbies to your doctor—knowing what sports or leisure activities you like to do in your free time makes it easier for him or her to make appropriate recommendations for correcting vision and keeping your eyes healthy.

Several studies 1-3 have shown that children and adolescents significantly benefit from the use of contact lenses when compared to spectacle wearers, by improving self-esteem and vision related quality of life. There are many reports4-7 of successful contact lens wear among children and adolescents. It has been shown that children aged 12 or younger are comparable to those who were fitted with lenses during their teens in terms of satisfaction, compliance and ease of fit2

With proper training from qualified optometrists and under the supervision of parents, children can be equally successful contact lens wearers in the long term. Studies2,8,9 show that children involved in recreational activities such as sports and dance, children who are motivated to wear contact lenses and those who do not like their appearance with glasses, will benefit most from contact lens wear.

Many children may delay their vision correction or tolerate blurry vision due to a lack of confidence in their appearance in glasses. Clear comfortable binocular vision is essential for good reading comprehension and an effective learning experience. Contact lenses enable clear vision without the negative perceptions about appearance the some associate with spectacle.          

Studies10,11 have also shown that special design contact lenses which effectively manipulate the peripheral vision can slow down the progression of myopia. There is growing evidence that contact lenses are a more effective way of retarding myopic progression than spectacle wear. However, much work is needed. The Brien Holden Vision Institute has been working on this exciting area of development, envisioning contact lens as an important myopia control strategy in the near future.

Foreseeing the many potential benefits that contact lenses may further bring to people in need of vision correction around the world, Brien Holden Vision Institute is continuing to lead research and further development in contact lens technology.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is the difference between an ophthalmologist, an optometrist and an optician?

Your sight depends on seeing the right eye doctor at the right time.
When it's time to "get your eyes checked," make sure you are seeing the right eye care professional for your needs. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians each play an important role in providing eye care to consumers. But the levels of training and expertise are quite different for each type of provider. Here's a quick look at the three types of eye care providers:

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist — Eye M.D. — is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research on the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders.

Optometrist

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed by Ministry of Health to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.

Optician

Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors and surgeons or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.

How does normal vision develop?

Vision or visual acuity is tested by reading a Snellen eye chart at a distance of 20 feet. By looking at lots of people, eye doctors have decided what a "normal" human being should be able to see when standing 20 feet away from an eye chart. If you have 20/20 vision, it means that when you stand 20 feet away from the chart you can see what a "normal" human being can see. (In metric, the standard is 6 meters and it's called 6/6 vision). In other words, if you have 20/20 vision your vision is "normal" -- a majority of people in the population can see what you can see at 20 feet.
If you have 20/40 vision, it means that when you stand 20 feet away from the chart you can only see what a normal human can see when standing 40 feet from the chart. That is, if there is a "normal" person standing 40 feet away from the chart, and you are standing only 20 feet away from the chart, you and the normal person can see the same detail. 20/100 means that when you stand 20 feet from the chart you can only see what a normal person standing 100 feet away can see. 20/200 is the cut-off for legal blindness in the United States.
You can also have vision that is better than the norm. A person with 20/10 vision can see at 20 feet what a normal person can see when standing 10 feet away from the chart.

How does the eye work (eye anatomy)?

The five senses include sight, sound, taste, hearing and touch. Sight, like the other senses is closely related to other parts of our anatomy. The eye is connected to the brain and dependent upon the brain to interpret what we see.
How we see depends upon the transfer of light. Light passes through the front of the eye (cornea) to the lens. The cornea and the lens help to focus the light rays onto the back of the eye (retina). The cells in the retina absorb and convert the light to electrochemical impulses which are transferred along the optic nerve and then to the brain.
The eye works much the same as a camera. The shutter of a camera can close or open depending upon the amount of light needed to expose the film in the back of the camera. The eye, like the camera shutter, operates in the same way. The iris and the pupil control how much light to let into the back of the eye. When it is very dark, our pupils are very large, letting in more light. The lens of a camera is able to focus on objects far away and up close with the help of mirrors and other mechanical devices. The lens of the eye helps us to focus but sometimes needs some additional help in order to focus clearly. Glasses, contact lenses, and artificial lenses all help us to see more clearly.

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