Healthy Living

World Sight Day by The Vision Council

Photo: Marsavic (Flickr)

Did you know there was even a World Sight Day? Yep, this year it was October 8th. Have you ever thought what would happen if you lost your sight? Well I for one have horrible eye sight.  Perfect eyes are 20/20 and mine are -6.5/-7 yeah that is BAD! So I try to do what I can to prevent my son to go through the eye troubles I have had.

Why are your eyes important?

Fun fact: The eye is the strongest muscle in your body and it can process 36,000 bits of  information every hour!

Eyes are also a window to our overall health and wellbeing. During routine eye exams, eye doctors can uncover chronic systemic diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, brain disorders, stroke, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and even some types of cancer – all in addition to eye diseases and incremental vision loss.

Effects on your Eyes

Sun damage

  • UV radiation is present year-round
  • UV damage is cumulative
  • Unprotected exposure can cause temporary and permanent vision problems
  • Wear UV-protective sunglasses

Computer/TV Strain

  • Last year, The Vision Council found that 70 percent of adults experience some form of digital eye strain while using their devices
  • Adults and children are spending more time in front of digital screens
  • Prolonged time on digital devices tires and fatigues our eyes
  • Symptoms include dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, back and neck pain

How to prevent digital strain?

  • 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. (I am always telling my son to back away so always go check on the kids)
  • Clean your screen often (this one is a biggie for me, my screen is always dirty)
  • Reduce exterior and overhead lighting to avoid glare
  • Keep your distance from the screen (20-24 inches)
  • Position your computer 10-15 degrees below eye level
  • Purchase computer eyewear – talk to your doctor

Family History:

  • Congenital cataracts, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, optic atrophy, retinal pigmentosa, and macular degeneration are all hereditary eye diseases, and a family history can increase your risk of developing a condition
  • For children, there is also strong evidence to suggest that the most common vision problems are genetically determined – including lazy eye, cross eye, and refraction errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Personal Health:

  • Eat right – dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids can preserve eye health
  • Maintain a healthy weight – reduce your risk of diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma
  • Keep your blood pressure under control – hypertension is linked to eye disease
  • Exercise – people with active lifestyles are 70% less like to develop AMD
  • Quit smoking – smoking can cause AMD, cataracts and optic nerve damage (I did not know this, glad I quit smoking)
  • Wash your hands – avoid risk of infection; wash before you touch!- Very important for the kiddos. My son used to get pink eye all the time so we are always washing hands.

This is some great information and I am thrilled to be apart of this discussion. Dr. Owen was open for some Q&A and there were some great questions asked. Here are some you may want to know about.

Where can I get more information?

What are floaters? What is the normal amount for an average person?

In the center of the eye there is a gel called the vitreous, which holds the shape of the eye. As we age it becomes more liquefied and shrinks. As it liquefies, you sometimes get clumps of that gel in your eye that you see. You’ll notice the floaters more on bright days.

Most people do have a few floaters in the eye. There’s no real way to say what is a normal amount for people. I tell my patients to watch out for an increase in floaters or if they are changing in shape all of a sudden. Then go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Is there a risk in digitalizing children too early with too much screen time?

For children, it’s important that they’re not constantly focused up close to a screen. What happens is that their eyes can become near-sighted, because they become so used to looking up close that they lose the ability to see farther away. It’s really important to make sure they are involved in other activities that cause them to look farther away as well.

Do sunglasses for kids work? What kind should I look for?

The most important thing to look out for is UV protection. I don’t recommend a certain brand or price point over another but I do advise parents to involve kids in the purchase. Kids will much more likely wear glasses that they like and are comfortable for them. The impact-resistant sunglasses are safe and great for active kids.

What tips do you have to getting kids to keep their sunglasses on?

For younger children, look for glasses with an elastic strap, similar to goggles. They stay on the heads much better! Also, look for bright and fun colored frames that appeal to the kids. Get bright colored frames that will appeal to kids. Glasses with a nose pad make them more comfortable for kids too.

Again I am so happy to have been apart of this discussion. It was part of the The Motherhood campaign and The Vision Counsel.

Karla Urwitz
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