October 15, 2013

World Sight Day - Protecting Your Vision

Most of you know that both C and I wear glasses. I come from a long line of family needing corrective eye wear so for me getting a vision exam is just a normal part of life. Last week, I had the chance to participate in an educational briefing about vision care in honor of World Sight Day and I was surprised at how much of the knowledge I assumed was common was, in fact, not that way at all. The briefing was given by Dr Desiree Carrillo-Owen, Medical Adviser to The Vision Council and Optometrist at north Short Eye Center in Chicago, IL. Dr Owen gave some great information as part of this briefing about how to take care of our eyes. She discussed three main types of eye protection, UV protection, digital protection and everyday protection.

As far as UV protection goes, I know that at my house we often forget to protect our eyes. Especially now that it is cooling off we put our sunglasses and hats away and are much more concerned about being warm then saving from sunburn. Dr Owen says that everyone should wear UV eye protection year round because unprotected exposure can cause temporary and permanent vision problems. When buying sunglasses, she said the brand is not important as long as we buy from a  trusted source, choose a pair that are comfortable, look for a sticker or label indicating UVA/UVB protection and actually wear them. It's good to know that we don't have to spend lots of money on sunglasses for them to do their job.

Another concern that we don't often think about is digital eye strain. I know that I spend a lot of time in front of digital screens and that this can fatigue my eyes and produce symptoms including dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and back and neck pain. I have suffered from many of these things in the past but Dr Owen had some simple suggestions for helping here too. First she suggested keeping your screen clean, you know all those pesky kids fingerprints don't help, and reducing lighting to avoid glare. She also said that keeping 20-24 inches between you and the screen and positioning your computer 10-15 degrees below eye level will help prevent digital eye strain. Something I didn't know is that there are also special computer glasses available for those who spend more time with digital devices. I know I will be asking my doctor about these during my next eye exam.

At the end of the presentation, Dr Owen briefly discussed that there are many times when we might need eye protection during our daily activities including, but not limited to, sports, home improvement projects, yard work, crafts, cooking, and cleaning. A little bit of eye protection can go a long way to making sure that you have great vision for life. And as always, make sure you eat right, maintain a healthy weight, monitor your blood pressure, exercise, avoid smoking, wash your hands, and, of course, get regular eye exams to help protect your vision for life!

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