Many people embrace a New Year’s Resolution as an opportunity to make a positive change in their life. Most are based on some aspect of living a healthier lifestyle such as losing weight, making better food choices, or simply developing more effective daily habits. Lower blood pressure, decreased body mass index, lowering cholesterol, and a healthy diet can certainly contribute to an improved quality of life. Yet there are other things you may want to think about adding to your 2019 New Year’s Resolution!
Don’t overlook just how much the health of your eyes and your vision also contribute to your quality of life. In fact, something as simple as scheduling a comprehensive eye exam as part of your New Year’s Resolution can go a long way toward detecting vision and eye health problems before they have a chance to worsen.
It’s worth noting that nearly 11 million Americans over the age of 12 have some degree of reduced vision which can be corrected by prescription glasses. Also, 61 million Americans are at increased risk for some degree of vision loss or vision impairment. Yet less than 50% of them have visited their eye doctor in the last calendar year!
The unfortunate reality is that eye diseases are relatively common and can occur due to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. The longer they go undetected the more likely an eye disease is to worsen, and the harder it may be to treat.
Fortunately, something as simple as scheduling a routine eye exam can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from a serious eye disease while also helping to maintain healthy vision. It’s also worth bearing in mind that routine eye exams are just as important for children as they are for adults.
Conditions like Amblyopia, which causes limitations in vision due to the eyes are not working together effectively impacts and estimate 2 to 3% of all children in America. Early detection of this very serious eye condition improves treatment options and helps ensure your child can have healthy vision into their adult years.
A comprehensive eye exam looks at many important factors with the health and function of the eyes.
Your Comprehensive Eye Exam Includes Things Like Testing:
- Overall visual acuity
- Depth perception as well as changing from looking near to far
- The alignment of the eyes
- The movement of each eye as well as their ability to move together
- Eye dilation to evaluate the health of the retinal and optic nerve
- Looking for signs of common eye disease and visual dysfunction
At the end of the eye exam, you will have an accurate assessment of the health and visual acuity of your eyes, or your child’s eyes. Should we find an active vision problem that needs to be corrected, we can help you understand the most effective treatment options.
Early Diagnosis Can Prevent Vision Loss
A comprehensive eye exam does more than simply test your visual acuity and the performance of your eyes. It also serves to detect the early stages of very serious eye diseases like glaucoma. At the same time, an eye exam might also reveal evidence of other health issues that can also affect the eyes like diabetes and hypertension.
With the early stages of glaucoma, the patient might not notice any symptoms. Sometimes the loss of vision is so gradual that it does unnoticed and there might be little to no pain. By the time symptoms worsen enough to drive the individual to set up an eye exam, the damage done to the eye might be permanent.
It’s an unfortunate reality that Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in humans, and that it is even more prominent in African American and Hispanic populations throughout the United States. This eye disease essentially causes vision loss by damaging the optic nerve which transmits visual information directly from the eyes to the occipital lobe of the brain.
As damage to the optic nerve continues it causes the peripheral vision to gradually diminish. As time goes on an untreated case of glaucoma can also start to cause significant damage to the central vision. Once this occurs the vision loss cannot be fully restored it can only be lessened.
When it comes to making a New Year’s Resolution, you should also keep in mind that January has been designated as National Glaucoma Awareness Month. The overarching goal is to raise awareness and educate people on the things they can do to maintain their healthy vision. This includes scheduling a comprehensive eye exam for early detection of this serious “Sneak Thief of Sight.”
There are several factors that can lead to an increased risk of suffering from glaucoma.
Factors Leading To Glaucoma Risk Include
Individuals over the age of 40 are more likely to develop glaucoma. This risk continues to increase with age.
Statistically the African American and Hispanic population are at greater risk for developing glaucoma.
Genetics can be a factor that increases your chance of suffering glaucoma. If one of your parents or siblings has glaucoma, you are at increased risk of also developing it.
In general blood sugar handling issues can impact the health of the eyes and the condition of the optic nerve. This places diabetics at increased risk for glaucoma.
Can place increased strain on the eyes which can potentially increase your glaucoma risk
Past Eye Injuries and Eye Surgery
Certain eye injuries and eye surgeries can also increase your risk of developing glaucoma as well as other eye health issues.
Frequent Use Of Steroid Medications
Steroid medications are often prescribed to help address chronic inflammatory conditions. However, using them over a prolonged period of time can potentially increase your glaucoma risk.
Other Things You Can Do To Help Maintain Healthy Eyes
Scheduling a comprehensive eye exam is a great first step toward maintaining healthy eyes and clear vision. However, there are other little things you can add to your New Year’s Resolution to help maintain healthy eyes.
Your body is mostly made up of water. This is especially true of the eyes where fluid balance is important. Proper hydration also helps with delivering key nutrients to your eyes and avoiding the chronic irritation of dry eye.
Reduce Eye Strain
The average American spends a lot of their day looking at computer screens and other electronic devices. If you don’t take an occasional break to allow your eyes to change focus from near to far, you are more likely to suffer from eye strain and other related conditions. Doing something as simple as taking changing your focus to look at something mid-range or in the distance every 20 minutes can reduce eye strain problems.
Use Quality Eye Protection
Embracing a more active lifestyle is often a popular component of most New Year’s Resolutions. Yet if you’re going to be outside, playing in sports, or working in dangerous conditions, you need to make sure you are using appropriate eye protection. This includes common sense things like rated safety goggles but can also apply to things like making sure you are using sunglasses that match your prescription which also has some level of ultraviolet sun protection.
A new year brings with it the opportunity to embrace change and live a more healthy lifestyle. While a comprehensive eye exam might not seem like the most exciting New Year’s Resolution, it is certainly something that can greatly contribute to maintaining a higher quality of life.