November 14th is World Diabetes Day, a day dedicated to global recognition of diabetes and how it affects everyone. It is a safe bet that virtually everyone in Canada has heard of, and likely knows someone who is living with diabetes. Currently, there are nearly 11 million people living with either diabetes or prediabetes, a disease that causes the body to either fail to produce insulin, or makes it incapable of using it. Since insulin helps the body control blood sugar, people with diabetes suffer from high blood sugar levels. You may be aware that high blood sugar can damage your body’s organs, but were you aware that your eyes were included in the potential damage?
Spring brings with it longer daylight hours and everyone loves a bright, sunny day. The positive effect of sunlight is manifold. Sunshine provides Vitamin D, which is necessary for good health, it warms the air and is very important in the growing process of plants, flowers and trees. It also is great in raising the spirits. Research has shown that sunlight improves a person’s mood and can decrease depression. Unfortunately, the effects of sunlight are not all positive. Ultraviolet light coming from the sun can damage your skin. It can also do damage to your eyesight.
What is Ultraviolet Light?
Have you ever had sore, itchy, irritated eyes? Have you experienced burning or aching sensation in your eyes? Does it happen regularly? You may want to schedule an appointment with your Optometrist because there is a good chance that you have Dry Eye Syndrome.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry Eye Syndrome occurs when your eyes aren’t getting enough lubrication to keep them clean and healthy. Your eyes need constant moisture which is provided by your tears, usually through blinking. Every time you blink, your tear glands (lacrimal glands) release fluid that is wiped across your eyeball by the inside of your eyelid. This liquid is a combination of water, oil and mucus, and its sole purpose is to moisturize and protect your eye. But sometimes your tears don’t provide enough moisture.
20/20 is a term commonly used as the definition of perfect eyesight. But is that really what it means? Actually, it is much more complicated than that. In fact, even the term perfect, isn’t that easily defined when it comes to your vision.
In 1862, Herman Snellen developed a system for measuring the sharpness of vision, known as visual acuity. The system measures your ability to see letters or numbers on a chart at a prescribed distance, generally 20 feet. The measurement system is known as Snellen fractions and read as: 20/20, 20/40, 20/60, etc. Using this measurement system, a person with 20/20 vision would be considered as having “normal” vision, meaning that they can see letters and numbers at 20 feet that they average person should be able to see at 20 feet. A person with 20/200 would be considered legally blind.
So your Optometrist has discovered a problem with your, or possibly your child’s, vision. The next thing they will do is suggest a treatment plan. Depending on the problem, this could be corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses) medication, or even eye surgery. Or they may suggest Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy? Do you mean eye exercises? Well, not exactly.
Vision Therapy by any other name
March 23rd is World Optometry Day, an excellent time to get to know your Optometrist. Question 1: What do you know about your Optometrist? Do you know what they do? Question 2: When was the last time you saw yours? Question 3…Wait! Why don’t we work on questions one and two first, and that sneaky Question 1.5 I snuck in the middle.
What is an Optometrist?
March 12th to 18th is Brain Awareness Week. Considering that vision is controlled by your brain, this would be a great time to discuss how your brain affects what you see, how it works, and what can go wrong.
How the Eye and Brain Function Together
March is National Nutrition Month, a very good time to discuss the effect of diet on your vision. The average rabbit can tell you about the importance of carrots for your eyesight, but what other foods can help?
Aging and Eye Disease
We all know that as we get older, our bodies wear down and need more maintenance and upkeep. The same is true for our eyes. Some common eye diseases that are related to getting older are: Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy, Dry Eye Syndrome, Glaucoma, and Macular Degeneration. Many of these age related conditions can be avoided or controlled by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, getting regular exercise, and eating healthy. But what is a good diet to maintain eye health?
Your eye is a delicate instrument that, when working properly, allows you to see the world around you, both near and far. There are a number of things, accident, infection, disease, etc. that can damage the eye and cause it to function less than perfectly. Some of these things may be temporary and correct themselves over time. Some may require medication or surgery. And some may require corrective lenses – Glasses. The following are three common conditions which can affect your eyes as early as childhood and are often treated with a prescription for glasses. They are: Nearsightedness, Farsightedness and Astigmatism.
So when should you be scheduling that eye appointment? If you are an adult under 40, you should make an appointment to get your eyes tested at least every two to three years. Over 40 you should get in every one to two years, and over 65, you should see your optometrist every 12 months.
Eye Exams for Children
Children’s eyes are usually tested at birth and during visits to the pediatrician. Their first visit to the optometrist should be at six months, then at age three, and again before they begin school. Between the ages of six and 19, they should get their eyes tested annually.