Probably the most well known saying regarding eyes is “The eyes are the window to the soul.” While it is difficult to accurately pin down who said it first or when, Leonoardo DaVinci is quoted as having said, “The eye is the window of the human body through which it feels its way and enjoys the beauty of the world.” No matter how you look at it, our eyes are pretty amazing organs that do so much for us. At the same time, it is so easy for us to take them for granted. Let’s talk about a few easy things that we can do to keep our peepers in top condition.
#1 Get an annual eye exam. Even if you don’t need glasses; even if you aren’t that old; even if nothing seems to be wrong. An eye exam tests more than just your need for a prescription. During your exam, your eye doctor (aka ophthalmologist or optometrist) will look at the structure of your eye and all of its parts. You will also be screened for things like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and more. Some of these conditions have few or no symptoms in their early stages, but your eye doctor can see them as plain as the nose on your face. And, fun fact, did you know that an eye doctor may be able to detect other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes before your primary care physician? Most insurance covers an annual eye exam. If yours doesn’t, ask your local optical center for a quote. I bet you’ll find that they don’t cost as much as you might think. For more information on why a yearly eye exam is so important check out this article by the CDC.
#2 Wear sunglasses. But not just any old sunglasses. If you wear glasses normally, your sunglasses should be made to match your prescription. Beyond that, we should all be protecting our eyes by wearing shades that block both UVA and UVB rays everytime we head outdoors. Even if it isn’t super sunny, those harmful rays are still out there. Have you ever gotten a sunburn on your skin when it was overcast outside? The same thing happens to our eyes whether the sunlight is making us squint or not. Fun fact, the word for sun burn of the eye (also called snow blindness) is photokeratitis.Think of your sunglasses like sunscreen for your eyes...because they pretty much are. A few other conditions that sunglasses protect you from include cataracts, dark adaptation, and cancer of the eye or eyelid. For more information on why sunglasses are so important, click and read this article by theAmerican Optometric Association (AOA).
#3 Consider Blue Light filtering. What exactly is blue light? Most times when we talk about “blue light” we are referring to man-made, indoor sources of light from the blue (or violet) end of the light spectrum such as flat screen TVs, computers, cell phones and other digital devices. But, did you know that sunlight also contains blue light waves? Let’s face it, we can’t fully escape the dreaded blue light. And we are all spending more and more time in front of various screens. No matter if it’s for entertainment, work, news, or finances we use a screen. And more screens equal more blue light which equals more problems. According to the AOA article “Battling Blue Light”, blue light is not only associated with retinal injury, it may be contributing to aging of the eye and age-related vision problems in younger patient groups. So, what’s a person to do? Like I said, there is no way to avoid blue light all together, but we can try to limit our exposure. When we do need to “expose” ourselves, consider adding blue-wave filtering lenses to your contacts, glasses and sunglasses. Also consider blue-wave filtering screens or screen protectors for your various devices. For more info on blue light, how it affects us, and how to protect yourself check out: “Blue Light In The Limelight” by the AOA and “Blue Light: It's Both Bad and Good For You” by All About Vision.
We all want to be able to use our eyes to “enjoy the beauty of the world” (like Leonardo DaVinci said) for as long as possible. So, let’s all go get our eyes checked, find some stylish UVA/UVB blocking shades, and filter as many blue rays as we can. And I’ll see YOU on the flip side, friend.
*We understand that during CODIV-19, many optometrist are closed. We hope this information serves you in the future once you're able to see your eye doctor*