If you had to give up one of your five senses, which one would you be willing to part with? It certainly would be a difficult choice, but chances are that you would never want to give up your sight. After all, we perceive up to 80 percent of all our impressions from our sense of sight.
If vision contributes the majority of all input data to our brain, it definitely deserves regular care and maintenance. Healthy Vision Month is an annual initiative that encourages all men, women and children to consider the importance of lifelong eye health. It is a perfect time to renew your commitment to your vision by taking proactive steps to protect your gift of sight.
Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam
You may not have any noticeable vision issues, but do not rely on the absence of symptoms as proof that your vision is healthy. Many eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration have no warning signs in the early stages. Once there are symptoms present, it often means that permanent damage has already occurred. Comprehensive eye exams are also helpful to diagnose refractive errors, focusing problems and conditions like dry eye or computer vision syndrome. Possibly the most important feature of a dilated eye exam is that it allows your eye doctor to evaluate the health of your retina and optic nerve.
You may be at increased risk for a specific eye disease or eye condition if it runs in your family. Researchers have mapped genes for diseases like glaucoma and are identifying genes in macular degeneration, so it is important to know what eye diseases run in your family. Use family gatherings to talk to your relatives about family eye health history, and share this information with your eye care professional.
Live a healthy lifestyle
You cannot do anything to change your family history, but you make daily choices that influence your eye health. You have the ability to help preserve your vision by eating a nutritious and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, and not smoking (Source: National Eye Institute).
Use protective eye wear
Each year, about 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States, but 90% could have been prevented by wearing correct eye protection. Safety goggles, safety glasses and eye guards can prevent most injuries at home, on the job or outside. Eye protection is important for the entire family and not just adults, so invest in protective eye wear for the whole family. And as a final reminder, sunglasses should be worn in all types of weather and not just when it is sunny outside. (Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology).
Value your sense of sight by following these four steps. You can start by making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with dilation for the whole family. Thank you for celebrating Healthy Vision Month and helping to spread the word to others!