I had the honor of speaking with VSP Vision Care Optometrist, Dr. Roger Phelps of OjaiEyes Optometry, about a topic that is very important to us all…eye health. While you may not make it a priority, I think by the time you are done reading this post, you’ll agree that it’s time to invest some time into your eye health!
I asked Dr. Phelps to share why women should be getting their eyes checked and how often. He told me that, just like your body or your teeth, your eyes need regular checkups. In addition to checking the eye’s general health, a variety of health issues can actually be found via an eye exam. Yearly exams are recommended and most health care insurances provide for a yearly exam. Dr. Phelps stressed the importance of all members of your family getting an eye exam, even if there are no symptoms or needs known at the time, so that the record can show what “normal” looks like for each person. This is important documentation that allows for the doctor to compare from year to year in case there are any changes found.
Magical Age of 40:
Having just turned 41, I am feeling like my vision is actually becoming more blurry. While I can’t determine if it’s due to being tired or I truly have a need, I wanted to know why 40 was such a magic number and why so many people start to notice a change in their vision at that age. Dr. Phelps explained it in very simple terms: The natural lens grows through life and layers are added to the lens, like adding layers to an onion. As we age, the lens becomes less flexible and it has a harder time adjusting to the surroundings, making it harder to focus. For many, 40 is the age that a change is noticed.
A Note about New Moms:
After I had my daughter, I seemed to have a hard time focusing so I had my eyes checked. Everything was fine. I asked Dr. Phelps if this is a common problem for new moms. He said, that many times, the hormones affect the water balance in the body which can cause dry eye, which impacts one’s vision. Artificial tear drops help to normalize the tear film issue. Dr. Phelps wants to make it clear, however, that if there are any concerns one should make an appointment with their eye doctor.
A Word About Diabetes:
With my daughter having Type 1 Diabetes, I worry about her eye health. I know that as she grows older, she’ll need to start having yearly exams to look behind her eye to make sure all is healthy. I know that vision loss is a side effect of uncontrolled diabetes and every time her blood sugars run high, I think about the damage it is doing to her body, including her eyes. It is very scary!
Dr. Phelps is a certified diabetes educator so he has a wealth of knowledge in this area. Here are a few things he shared with me:
- Undiagnosed diabetes can actually be caught with a routine eye exam. If the ophthalmologist sees bleeding in the retina, diabetes is suspected. According to the VSP website, “bleeding usually signals that a buildup of sugar in the patient’s bloodstream has begun to break down the capillaries that feed the retina. The result is often what we call diabetic retinopathy – a condition in which continuing damage to retinal tissue from diabetes can lead to impaired vision or even blindness, if left untreated.” The patient should seek immediate medical attention for further testing.
- If you are a diabetic, you understand what an A1C is. A1C, at it’s most basic, is a blood test that measures the glucose levels in one’s blood. For optimal health, the normal range for an A1C is between 4-6%, above that and a person can see complications over time. It is the A1C level that determines eye health. If one’s A1C is high, vision may be blurry. If left untreated, damage will begin to occur to the eye and the rest of the body. For optimal eye health, diabetics (both Type 1 and Type 2) should strive to be within the normal 4-6% range. (A note about children’s A1C, as indicated by our peds endocrinologist and Dr. Phelps, a child’s A1C tends to run higher than the normal 4-6% due to their activity and growth hormones. Please check with your pediatrician if you have any questions concerning this.)
- As a reminder, the best way to maintain your eye health is with preventative care: keep A1C in check, keep blood pressure within normal range and keep your LDL under 100.
Does Eating Carrots Really Help My Vision?
I had to ask. It’s such an obvious question! According to Dr. Phelps, carrots are high in Vitamin A, which is good for the eyes but most people are not deficient in Vitamin A. While there are situations when extreme beta carotene is used to treat vision problems, eating extra carrots is not really going to help you see better. However, a diet that includes many vitamins like A, E, C, Zinc and Selenium is good for your retina. Foods that benefit your eye health include: kiwi, kale, salmon, tuna, spinach, red wine and dark chocolate! These foods are loaded with anti-oxidants that are great for your health! Dr. Phelps and Bill Nye the Science Guy put together this great video that your kids will enjoy too: Can Eating Carrots Really Improve Your Vision? (Don’t you just love Bill Nye??)
Other Tidbits You Should Know About Eye Health:
- Smoking is really bad for your eye health…so if you are still doing it, stop already!
- Heavy antihistamines can keep eye from focusing properly
- For you techies: when working at computers, people tend not to blink! Dr. Phelps suggests you look away from the computer every 20 minutes. Look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make yourself blink! This helps reset your eyes!
After my conversation with Dr. Phelps, I was completely convinced that my family needed to get to the ophthalmologist STAT! My husband wears glasses but I know he hasn’t had his eyes checked in the past year, my son needs to have an exam to get his baseline on record, my daughter needs to have her eye health watched closely (Dr. Phelps is adamant that all children with diabetes should have eye exams even before the age of 12, which our doctor recommended) and I really think I’ll need glasses sooner than later…I’m actually ok with adding another accessory to my wardrobe!
What about your family? When are you making eye exam appointments for your crew?
Protect your family’s vision, schedule an eye exam for each member of your household today! Need help finding an eye doctor? VSP offers the largest network of doctors, as well as convenient retail and online access. Please find more facts at SeeMuchMore.com.
This is a sponsored post. I am working with VSP as an ambassador to bring you eye care information as well as gorgeous eye wear styles!