There’s a lot of information out there concerning your eye health. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell who and what to believe; which is why we have organizations like the American Council on Science and Health operating to bring you the most reliable and up to date information about, well, science and health.
Ana Dolaskie, director of video production at the American Council on Science and Health, recently interviewed Dr. Jessica Hartwig to find out the do’s and don’ts of eye care.
Let’s take a quick look at the key do’s and don’ts from Dr. Hartwig’s interview.
Annual Eye Exams
DO absolutely get an annual eye exam. Many of us are likely to brush off our eye exams, but they are extremely important. And they aren’t just important for people already living with vision conditions. Even if your eyesight is “perfect”, you could benefit from an eye exam.
As Dr. Hartwig explains in her interview, an eye exam is so much more than just an exam to reaffirm your perfect vision by having you read letters off of a poster. Eye doctors will check for signs for potential danger and vision conditions or diseases.
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DON’T skip out on your eye exam. You may be tempted to especially if you can still see properly and nothing seems wrong. However, one eye exam a year can only do you good. An eye exam could reveal signs of dangerous eye issues that you may not notice because of little or no symptoms.
Sitting Too Close to the Television
Dr. Hartwig debunks this myth by explaining that sitting too close to the TV won’t actually cause your vision to deteriorate. But, it could be a sign that your child isn’t seeing the way that they should.
Vision problems in children, though rare for the most part, do happen. When a child is having difficulty seeing, chances are they won’t be the ones to tell you. Kids often don’t realize that they even have a vision impairment or that their poor eyesight is a symptom of something.
Blurred vision in children can cause a number of repercussions, including trouble learning in school, loss of confidence, and it poses a danger to their future eye health. If you find that your child sits too close to the TV, it could mean they have a vision condition.
DO look out for signs of poor vision in your children and DO take them to get an immediate eye exam. The sooner they’re diagnosed, the sooner they can start to rebuild their vision.
Reading in the Dark
I remember my grandmother scolding me for always reading in the dark. She would tell me that if I did that, I’d go blind. Common sense will tell us that this is a myth. You won’t go blind from reading in the dark, but you may cause some serious damage to your eyes.
Eye strain is one of the most common symptoms of reading in the dark or in low light. When you read in low lighting, your eyes have to work extra hard to focus and to be able to see the small print. This, coupled with continuous reading can lead to eye strain and headaches.
As Dr. Hartwig points out, with the invention of eReaders and tablets, reading in the dark off of these devices can pose new threats to our eyes. The blue light emitted from these digital devices are often to blame. Too much exposure to this blue light can cause digital eye strain and increase your risk of macular degeneration.
DON’T read in the dark or in low light. If you must, consider buying a reading light that clips onto your book.
DO get filters installed on your tablet and eReaders to filter out blue light. If you do most of your reading on a digital device, it is highly recommend you use a light filter to block out the blue light. This will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Staring at the Sun
We’ve all been told not to stare directly at the sun because it will hurt our eyes. This is not an old wives tale. Staring at the sun can be detrimental to your vision health. Looking directly at the sun can cause solar maculopathy (sometimes called solar retinopathy).
Solar maculopathy is caused by excessive exposure to light. Technically, any light bright enough can cause it. When exposed to excessively bright lights, it can damage both the retina and the macula of the eye. Often, symptoms won’t appear until several hours after sun exposure.
DON’T stare directly at the sun. Ever. Not even during an eclipse, which is probably the most dangerous time to do it.
DO wear the right protective eyewear when spending a lot of time in the sun. Get a broad brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses before hitting the beach.
Prolonged Computer Use
Living in the digital age is hard on the eyes. For everything that computers give us, the one thing they don’t give us is better vision. In recent years, digital eye strain has been on the rise.
Digital eye strain has especially become a problem for those whose jobs require long hours in front of a computer. Digital eye strain can cause dry eyes, headaches, neck and back pain, and eye pain.
DO blink more often. We all have a tendency to blink less often when we use computers, which is what causes dry eyes.
DO take a break every 10 minutes by staring at something 10 feet away for 10 seconds. This will help your eyes relax and defocus.
DON’T keep using your computer if you think you have symptoms of digital eye strain. See your doctor as soon as you can for a proper diagnosis and ways to treat it.
DO yourself a favor and take care of your eyes. They need you as much as you need them. Hopefully these do’s and don’ts will inspire you to take a proactive approach to your own vision care.