World Sight Day: Eye Health 101

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World Sight Day was October 10th.  One thing we often take for granted is our eye sight… that is until we have a problem.  I am definitely guilty of taking my eye sight for granted.  I long considered myself the lucky recipient of “good eye genes”.  Because my father had perfect vision well into his fifties, I naturally assumed I would have the same.  He use to tell me to every once in a while let the sun shine in my eyes, eat lots of carrots and all would be well with my eyes.   Over the last few years, I’ve had a few moments where I thought to myself, perhaps not all is well.  In the back of my head, I knew I should probably be wearing sunglasses, and so should my kids.  I kept putting on my list of things to do, limit the kids screen time.  I needed to be compelled.

Research shows that, shockingly, more than 40 percent of parents don’t proactively ensure their children wear UV protective sunglasses – the most effective tool for blocking damaging UVA and UVB rays.  Tag me GUILTY! This is extremely dangerous for kids, especially those under ten, who are at higher risk of UV damage than adults (and I cringe!).    This, combined with the newly termed “digital eye strain”, where both adults and children are spending more time in front of digital screens had me horrified at the damage that may have been done already.  Personally, being educated on Eye Health was such an eye opener for both myself and my family.

Here are some great tips and things to keep in mind:

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  • Prevent Digital Eye Strain with the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Wear UV-protective sunglasses – ALWAYS!  Look for a sticker or label indicating UVA/UVB protection and buy from a credible source.
  • Eat right –  dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids can preserve eye health
  • The American Optometric Association recommends infants receive their first eye exam at 6 months and again at 3 and 5-6 years old. For school age, every 2 years. And for children with eyeglasses, it is recommended to be examined annually. For adults, every two years is a good rule of thumb. But consult with your eye doctor for their recommendations!
  • Eyes do not repair themselves, that’s why it’s important for parents to instill good eye protection habits in kids at a young age.
  • UV rays are still present when it is cloudy! It is important to wear sunglasses even when it is cloudy.
  • Children who spend too much time in front of digital screens are at increased risk for near-sightedness. YIKES!
  • Digital Eye Strain also applies to handheld devices like our mobile phones and tablets.  They should be held at least an arm’s length away from eyes. This allows eyes to focus more accurately on content like graphics and text.
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Armed with this information, you can be sure I won’t be taking my eyes or the eyes of my family for granted anymore!  For more information on Eye Health & Safety, please visit The Vision Council’s website at www.thevisioncouncil.org and www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com for more eyewear tips and health information.

Follow the conversation at hashtag, #WorldSightDay.