May is Healthy Vision Month, which gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we can provide the best service to help our patients retain healthy eyes. In the eye-care field, we all know the importance of yearly eye examinations, but our patients might not. That’s why it’s particularly important to remind them that eye diseases such as glaucoma do not have any symptoms until it’s too late to save their vision.
Good eye health is closely linked to good general health. Maintaining ideal body weight can help protect vision. A high body mass index has been shown to be a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. Smoking doubles one’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, and increases the risk of developing cataracts. Good nutrition can help maintain healthy eyes. In particular, green leafy vegetables, and orange peppers (not carrots, as was previously thought) can provide nutrients that help protect eyes from harmful blue-violet light, and provide anti-oxidant support. Good control of diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent eye damage in individuals who have those diseases.
Protecting eyes from ultraviolet light can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Protective eyewear can help protect eyes from injuries for people participating in certain occupations and sports.
Children might not be aware of vision problems because their vision has been the same for their whole lives. For example, they might not realize that they have a lazy eye, and are only using one eye. Eye exams by the age of 5, preferably before then, can detect such conditions while they can be treated. Delaying treatment could make the condition permanent.
In summary, we can provide a great service to our patients by reminding them of the importance of annual eye exams, good general health, good nutrition, UV protection, and occupational and sports eyewear during Healthy Vision Month and all year round.