Guest Column

Tips to prioritize eye health in 2021

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Do you remember your last eye exam?

Recent surveys show less than half of individuals receive regular eye exams. When respondents were asked why they skipped an annual eye exam, most said their vision hadn’t changed. However, this mindset can spell trouble for your eyes.

Many eye conditions develop slowly, and patients don’t notice the signs until it’s too late. For example, an estimated 50% of glaucoma patients don’t realize they have this common eye disease. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness — and by the time patients realize, it’s too late to save vision.  

Your sight makes a huge difference in your quality of life. It’s important to take care of it. With the New Year underway, now is the time to prioritize your eye health and protect your eyes.

See Your Eye Doctor Regularly

A recent survey shed light on a common myth surrounding eye health: that we have no control over vision loss. Less than half of people surveyed believed they could prevent their eyesight from deteriorating. Respondents felt that vision loss is a part of aging and they have no control over it. In reality, the prevention and treatment of life-altering eye conditions starts with a single eye exam. Eye exams are about more than vision. An eye exam can detect over 270 different medical conditions—from diabetes to heart disease.

Early detection and treatment by annual eye exams is essential to halting or slowing down the progression of the disease and saving eyesight. Many vision-threatening eye diseases have minimal symptoms or none at all, until the disease has progressed. These can include glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. That’s why regular exams are so crucial. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the sooner sight-saving treatment can begin.

Reduce Digital Eye Strain

When we spend too much time staring at screens, such as our phones, laptops and tablets, the efficiency of our eye muscles is reduced. This means the eyes are less able to converge up close so we can see what’s on the screen. We also blink less when staring at screens, which affects our tear film and creates issues focusing and strain.

Thankfully, there are ways you can reduce the impact of screen time and protect your eyes. The first is to maintain proper distance. Screens should be at arm’s length from your eyes and positioned below your natural line of vision. Also consider your brightness setting. A setting that’s too bright or too dim can cause strain and headaches. Your screen should be bright enough that you don’t need to squint.

Eat Foods That Promote Healthy Eyes

When it comes to protecting your vision, what you eat may affect what you see. Certain vitamins and minerals may play a role in preventing two common causes of vision problems: cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Make sure you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and orange varieties, and leafy greens. Egg yolks are an even richer source of these nutrients.

This year, make it a resolution to protect your sight. At Florida Eye Specialists, we recommend that patients ages 60 and older have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. Why take any chances with your vision? If you have questions or are due for your exam, call our Ponte Vedra Beach office at (904) 564-2020.

Dr. David A. Kostick, M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist at Florida Eye Specialists. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit FloridaEyeSpecialists.com or call (904) 564-2020.

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