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When it comes to our health, we often visit our doctor or nurse regularly to make sure our bodies are healthy. But what about our eyes? They’re not always top of mind, but they’re just as important.

During Healthy Vision Month, held each May, the National Eye Institute encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and informs them about steps they can take to protect their vision:

Taking these steps can help prevent vision loss or blindness from many eye diseases and conditions. In addition, comprehensive dilated eye exams can detect problems early, when they’re easier to treat.

Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to catch eye diseases early, because with many, there are no warning signs.

You might think your vision is in good shape or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to be completely certain. When it comes to common vision problems, many people don’t realize their vision could be improved with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease often have no early symptoms. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you should have one.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and look for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the examination, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.

Living healthy can lower your risk of eye disease.

Living an overall healthy life is good for your eyes. You can start taking steps toward living a healthy life by:

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.

Eating healthy foods. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, is important for keeping your eyes healthy too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Not smoking. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

Managing chronic conditions. Many conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact vision, resulting in inflammation of the optic nerve, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and even blindness. Managing these conditions with the help of your health care provider can often prevent these eye problems from occurring.

We get our eye color from our parents, but did you know that eye health can be hereditary, too?

Talk to your family members – including parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles – about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.

Keep your eyes protected when doing chores around the house, playing sports, or on the job.

Did you know that each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment? Or that every 13 minutes, an ER in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury? Protecting your eyes with the right eyewear can prevent those injuries from happening—that includes safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.

Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores. Eyewear should sit comfortably on the face, so talk to your eye care provider about the appropriate type of protective eyewear for our sport or job.

For more information on protective eyewear requirements for each sport, visit: http://www.nei.nih.gov/sports/findingprotection. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have guidelines for eye safety at work.

Most people know the sun’s rays are bad for our skin. But did you know they’re just as bad for our eyes?

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some of the sun’s effects on the eyes include:

  • Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision. An estimated 20% of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.
  • Macular degeneration, resulting from damage to the retina that destroys central vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
  • Pterygium, a tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.

When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy. A wide-brimmed hat offers great protection, too!

For more information about these steps to maintain healthy vision, contact your eye health professional today!


President’s Message

Happy Spring, everyone! The weather has certainly been interesting this year, so far! Even though the temperatures had been milder than usual, on March 19th, the VRC moved our first ever egg hunt for blind and visually impaired kids and their siblings indoors due to the chilly weather that ushered in the season change. The afternoon consisted of Easter crafts, cupcake decorating, and, of course, an egg hunt! The children ranged in age from 2 to 12 years of age. Talking Easter eggs were used to help in the hunting process. With the audible clues, the kids were able to find the eggs with very little help from their sighted family members. For some of the kids, this was the first egg hunt that they felt comfortable and able to have an even playing field.

It was so nice to see new faces as well as some we have gotten to know over the last few years! Isn’t this what it’s all about? Having fun and making new friends, no matter what your age!

Until next time,
Lori Schermerhorn, President/CEO


Vision Resource Center provides programs and services to blind and visually impaired individuals and their caregivers in Berks County. Our mission is to strive to prevent blindness & visual impairment and to advocate and provide quality education, support services and rehabilitation to enrich the lives of blind and visually impaired persons and their caregivers. Our programs focus on helping to create an environment in Berks County in which all people who are blind or visually impaired can be a part of their communities with equal opportunities.Call 610-375-8407 for more information.  For up to date low vision and blind related news and information, check out our page on Facebook.


 

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