There is a lot of truth to the adage: “The Eyes Are the Windows to The Soul.” That’s because our eyes reveal so much about us. They convey when we’re tired, sad, frightened, angry, happy and they can even help determine other potential systemic health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has many people either neglecting or altering health maintenance of their eyes. Many have altered their healthcare schedules and avoided in person contact with optometrists and ophthalmologists. They are turning to virtual meetings and telemedicine to address their medical questions and concerns instead.
An AARP article from January 11, 2021 noted that there were 44 percent fewer ophthalmology visits and procedures done in 2020 than in 2019. That’s one of the biggest dips for any medical subspecialty according to findings by Strata Decision Technology.
There are preventative maintenance measures that consumers can take year-round to help ensure healthy eye care.
Since March is “National Save Your Vision Month,” now is a great time to ensure your eyes are in tip-top shape and that you take all the proper steps to keep them that way.
Many of us spend countless hours with our eyes glued to smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices, so it should come as no surprise that optometrists and ophthalmologists rank digital eye strain (DES) as one of the most common ailments among their patients.
According to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) American Eye-Q survey (2016) noted that 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems—such as eye irritation, dryness, fatigue, and blurred vision—as a direct result of overexposure to electronic devices.
In addition, more than 40 million Americans will likely be at risk for reduced vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and other age-related macular disease. However, many of these eye problems are preventable or curable with proper evaluation and treatment.
Even if you’re not experiencing any vision problems, don’t take your eyes for granted. For serious eye problems it’s always best to have them examined by a licensed professional. Most eye care specialists recommend a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years.
Before making an appointment, check the license or registration status of the healthcare provider through the Department of Consumer Affairs’ License Search at https://search.dca.ca.gov/. You can also view this information online via the board websites: Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov and the California State Board of Optometry at www.optometry.ca.gov.
Here are a few tips from AARP, The National Eye Institute, and the American Optometric Association you should “focus” on to help protect your eyes.
- THE EYES HAVE IT— Whether you’re drilling or sawing, or just mowing your lawn, it’s important to always protect your eyes with safety goggles to prevent anything from getting into them.
- EASY ON THE EYES— Some harsh lighting can trigger headaches. Use softer LED bulbs which dim without flickering, strobing, and glare.
- FOLLOW THE 20-20-20 RULE—Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
- COMPUTER READER GLASSES— Talk to your ophthalmologist about getting a pair of computer glasses. They are specially formatted to help reduce eyestrain.
- ZOOM IN—Maintain a comfortable working distance from your digital device(s) by using the zoom feature to see small print and details, rather than bringing the device closer to your eyes.
- ARE YOU ROLLING YOUR EYES? —It’s OK. Rolling those eyeballs around and from side to side or even up and down a few times a day helps lubricate and strengthen your eyes.
- HERE COMES THE SUN—Spring and summer are right around the corner. So, protect your eyes by investing in a good pair of sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks 99 percent to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Not only will your eyes appreciate the shade, but you’ll also probably look pretty cool sporting them too.