March Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

Eighty percent of learning is visual during the first twelve years of life. Growth, development, and academic success are directly linked to good vision. We all take our vision for granted……until it begins to diminish! March is the American Optometric Association’s annual Save Your Vision Month and is a reminder not to take our vision for granted.

The focus this year is healthy vision in the workplace. Much of the focus is on prolonged use of computers and other handheld devices. Eye and vision problems are the most frequently reported health care problems among people who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time. If this sounds like you, you may have Computer Vision Syndrome! Prolonged use of these devices may cause a person to look straight ahead for long periods of time and to blink less often. Recommendations include resting eyes often, blinking forcefully, and humidifying the air if possible.

Common symptoms of vision impairment include blurred vision, excessively watery eyes, double vision, headaches, red eyes, squinting, and excessive blinking.

To protect our eyes and our vision the AOA suggests wearing UV blocking sunglasses which delay the development of cataracts and prevents retinal damage; if you smoke cigarettes, stop, as this is directly linked to age related macular degeneration and cataracts; include vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet; wear eye protection when playing sports and while involved with home repairs including mowing and weed whacking; have regular eye exams; be aware of eye fatigue and rest eyes often. Try to look up and away from a computer screen every 10 minutes focusing on an object at least 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds.

There are many benefits of regular eye exams. If eyesight is decreasing, corrective measures can be taken right away. Diabetes is often diagnosed during an eye exam and diseases like glaucoma can be quickly detected and treated. AOA recommends yearly exams for any person with eye symptoms and for persons 65 years of age and older. Eye exams are recommended every two years for persons ages 40-65 with no symptoms.

More information can be found at www.aoa.org.

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