March is Save Your Vision Month: Don’t Take Your Eye Care for Granted
The American Optometric Association (AOA) has designated every March as Save your Vision Month. This observance started in 1927, and at that time, it was only observed for one week. In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson elevated the campaign to a national observance, and in 2005, it was extended to include the entire month of March.
Healthy vision is something we all take for granted – until we start to have problems. In fact, many people go years or even decades without an eye exam, except for basic vision screenings in school and the short reading test they have when they renew their driver’s license. People often think their eyesight is just fine, and they wait until later in life when they start to have problems reading before they go in to see an eye doctor.
Our eyes are a very important part of our overall health. We depend on our ability to see for so many aspects of our lives, and without our vision, our quality of life would be severely diminished. With so much at stake, it only makes sense that we would assign the same importance to our eye health as we would to our dental health and other areas of our body.
Keeping an Eye on Our Visual Health
Scientists estimate that 80% of the sensory information that our brain receives comes through our eyes. And although all of our senses are important, there is no doubt that our vision is the one sense we can ill afford to lose. This is why we should make it a priority to go in for regular eye exams, even at a young age.
Here are just a few ways eye exams can help keep us healthy:
Early Detection of Eye Conditions
These days, we spend more time than ever using electronic devices. Computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, televisions, the list goes on. Eye strain from digital activity has greatly increased the risk of various conditions, such as myopia (nearsightedness), which is now a growing problem even among younger children. If these conditions are not detected and treated early, they can put young people at greater risk for serious and potentially vision-threatening conditions later in life; such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. Regular eye exams from an early age are the best way to reduce the risk of developing serious vision problems.
For people who have vision problems that require glasses or contacts, regular checkups are important to monitor these issues and make sure they are seeing as well as possible. Our vision changes over time; and seeing the eye doctor regularly can help ensure that your prescription is up to date. Wearing contacts also carries certain risks; such as the potential for eye irritations, infections, corneal abrasions, and similar conditions. Regular exams will help in detecting and addressing these issues early on.
Early Detection of Other Serious Health Conditions
During an eye exam, it is possible to detect early signs of other serious conditions, such as:
High blood pressure
Eye Care in the Workplace
A large percentage of workers today use computers and other electronic devices on the job every day. Others who work around chemicals and other hazardous substances are also at risk of developing eye problems. Employers should be proactive in promoting healthy vision for their workforce. This includes providing proper safety equipment, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, and screen protectors. In addition, employers should promote eye safety by encouraging workers to use their vision insurance benefits to go in for regular eye exams, and even provide eye screenings on site at various times of the year.