Keeping a Close “Eye” on Your Vision Health

With screen time up more than ever before, eye safety and health should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. 

As society slowly re-emerges back into normalcy, a lot more people are catching up and scheduling routine health care appointments. One you shouldn’t miss is visiting the eye doctor, as eye exams at every age and life stage can help you maintain good vision. 

“Eyes are the windows to good health,” said Dr. Garvin H. Davis, MD, MPH, associate professor, Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, director of Retinal Disease and Surgery at The Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, and an ophthalmologist at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “Due to COVID-19 restrictions, children and adults are spending more time in front of digital screens and less time outdoors. Increased screen time can potentially cause damage to the eye.” 

About 11 million Americans over the age of 12 need some form of vision correction—but that is just one of the reasons to get your eyes examined. Annual eye exams are an important part of detecting eye diseases early and preserving your vision.  

So, what’s the importance of eye exams?  

Eye exams help children in the classroom. 
This one is for you, parents! Did you know that 80 percent of classroom learning is visual? Also, research shows over 20 percent of students have a vision problem that can be identified by a simple screening, and over 80 to 90 percent of those defects can be corrected with glasses. An eye exam ensures your child sees comfortably to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.  

Vision screenings and eye exams are two separate things.  
Just because an adult passes a vision screening at the DMV, or their child passed a mandatory school vision screening, does not mean they have perfect vision. These screenings are designed to identify individuals with serious and apparent vision problems. Instead, opt for a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist to ensure your vision is as clear as possible.  

An early warning sign for serious health problems. 
Oftentimes, people first learn they have health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure from an eye exam. Eye doctors observe and evaluate the condition of the blood vessels in the retina during an exam, which can predict the health of blood vessels throughout the rest of the body. Annual exams are crucial for people with diabetes or other health risks—a simple checkup can detect signs early and set up the individual with the right treatment. 

“Aside from an eye exam, there are simple steps you can follow to support eye health, such as eating fruits and leafy green vegetables, exercising regularly and giving your eyes a rest from the screen,” said Davis. “One useful tip is the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes spent in front of a screen, look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. Also, always wear sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes from the sun.  Some practitioners also recommend wearing protective eye wear such as blue light blocker glasses.”  

Even if you think you have 20/20 vision, an annual eye exam can be one of the best things you can do to protect the overall health and wellness of you and your loved ones. 

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Ali Vise