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“Keep your eyes on the prize” feature for Gleaner on World Sight Day

Now’s the time to start valuing your eye exam?

If we can find ourselves at the barber or salon for that ‘fix up’ to our hair and nails at least once a month, why can’t we manage to have our eyes examined once every year? The answer to this question is simple. We don’t value an eye examination enough!

I hope to dispel the myth that an eye examination is just a means to an end when wanting a new pair of glasses. Unfortunately, that’s the reason most people attend for an eye examination. However, while a comprehensive examination will provide a prescription that may be used to purchase that new pair of glasses you’ve been wanting, it is only one element to the examination.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team, and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health. Glaucoma, a potentially blinding condition, is very prevalent among West Indians. Its devastating effects can be prevented if only people would attend for routine yearly examination, where it could be detected and treated long before any symptoms are noticed. Ideally, you want to detect it as early as possible when the doctor is not quite sure and needs to do a number of further tests, and probably follow-up visits to determine one way or other; as this yields the best chance for saving vision.

On a daily basis, I encounter many diabetics who are unaware of the importance of an annual eye examination due to the fact that they suer from this condition. Diabetes is a disease that affects our blood vessels causing them to leak, and an eye examination is the best opportunity for a doctor to view your vessels to assess them for such leaks. If they’re leaking in your eyes, then they’re leaking everywhere else too. With this knowledge your medical practitioner can amend your medication accordingly or instruct you better on lifestyle changes that could improve your health and quality of life.

We all love to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and enjoy a beautiful sunny day. How many of us though routinely reach for our shades before we step outside? Sunglasses are not just fashion accessories but rather full an important role in providing protection to our eyes from the suns damaging UV light. It is a fact that people who grow up in sunnier climates develop denser cataracts at younger ages than those who are exposed to less sunshine. A routine examination should educate you as to how best to minimize the risk of UV exposure from the sun while alerting you to changes in your eyes due to such exposure so remedial action can be taken.

Eye exams for children play an important role in ensuring normal vision development and aids academic achievement. Children with undetected vision problems often have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, children will not complain of vision problems simply because they don’t know what ‘normal’ vision looks like. If your child is performing poorly at school, be sure to have his or her eyes examined to rule out an underlying visual cause. All children who are having no difficulty with their vision must have an eye examination between the ages of four to ve years to ensure that normal visual development occurs. The visual system develops during the first eight to nine years of life, and so failure to act early during this period often leads to lifelong problems that could otherwise be averted.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why yearly eye examinations are so important for our health. If you already know and practice this, then take a well-deserved pat on the back.

Otherwise, don’t delay and book your examination today. Our greatest prize is our health, so surely it’s worth investing some time and discipline on it. DR. ARON WOHL, M.C.Optom. Principle Optometrist at Eye Q Optical Ltd

Article published: https://www.pressreader.com/jamaica/jamaica-gleaner/20191010/281702616469386