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.