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Eye Care 101

Monday, March 16, 2015 @ 06:03 AM
Author: Amit Mathur


A lot of people don’t think about their eye health until they start having a problem reading their nightly book or making out the signs on the highway. That is a mistake.

Taking a proactive role in your eye care can improve your overall eye health and preserve your vision. You’ll reduce your risk of degenerative eye diseases and protect your overall quality of life.

Here’s everything you need to know about caring for your eye health:

Frequency of Eye Exams

Getting an eye exam is one of the most important things you can do for your eye health. The general recommendations are to get an eye exam every year to three years. However, those recommendations can change depending on your age, your family history or other risk factors.

Good eye care starts young. The American Optometric Association says that children should get their first eye exam at six months. They should then have a follow-up exam at three years and again just before starting school.

Those who don’t have any risk factors can then get an eye exam every two years until the age of 60. After that, eye exams should be performed yearly.

Children who have risk factors may need to get an eye exam earlier than six months or more frequently than every two years. Risk factors can include premature birth, developmental delays, crossed eyes or a family history of eye problems.

Risk factors for adults may include health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, eye injury, or a family history of eye problems. Adults who work in jobs that could threaten their vision may also need more frequent eye exams.

What to Expect in the Eye Exam

A comprehensive eye exam includes several tests that assess not only your vision but also your eye health.

The exam will usually start with your doctor asking you about your overall eye health and if you are experiencing any problems, such as pain, blurred vision or other vision issues. Your doctor will also ask you about your eye health history and your family’s health history. If your family has a history of glaucoma, for example, it will increase your risk for vision problems yourself.  Illnesses such as diabetes can also impact your eye health.

Your doctor will test your vision distance with the classic eye exam test: The giant letter chart with the big “E” right on top. This test will measure how well you can see at near and far distances. You will be asked to cover one eye while reading certain lines of the chart with the other eye.

Your doctor will shine a light in your eyes to look for any problems and to test the reaction of your pupils. You will also be asked to follow an object with your eyes so your doctor can evaluate their movement.

Drops will be put administered to dilate your eyes so your doctor can inspect your retina and the optic nerve. Your doctor will also use a special machine to administer a fast puff of air to your eye to measure the eye pressure.

All of these tests will measure how well your eyes can see, how far they can see, and how well they work together. The tests will also look for the early signs of eye disease, such as glaucoma, presbyopia, or astigmatism.

Eye Protection

Getting an eye exam on schedule is a great way to monitor your eye health and to discover the early signs of a problem. However, you also need to protect your eyes to prevent these problems from occurring.

Wearing sunglasses can help you protect your eyes every day. UV rays can damage your vision and your eyes. You should wear your sunglasses even when you don’t think the sun is very bright. UV rays can be just as damaging on cloudy days.

Eating a healthy diet can also help you protect your eye health. The antioxidants in leafy greens like spinach and kale can protect against cellular damage from things like sunlight and pollution.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and — with Vitamin E — can build healthy tissue. Good sources of Vitamin C include grapefruit, strawberries and Brussels sprouts. Sources of Vitamin E include nuts like almonds and pecans.

By taking a proactive approach to your eye health by eating a healthy diet and getting regular eye exams, you can maintain strong vision throughout your life and reduce your risk of eye disease. You’ll be glad you took these steps when you don’t have to worry about getting glasses or contact lenses.

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