When we start gearing up for back to school, we think about vaccines, school supplies, sports’ physicals, etc. However, how many times do you also think about your eye health?
Dr. Lindsay Rhodes, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, wants you to make sure you start making eye health a priority during every stage of life.
Is It Time to Get My Eyes Checked?
The following are recommendations set forth by the American Optometric Association on how often and at what age you should receive an eye exam:
Infants—birth to 24 months—patients should receive an eye exam around six months of age.
Toddlers and preschoolers—two to five years of age—an eye exam should take place at about the age of three.
School-aged—six to 18 years of age—the patient should obtain an eye exam before or during first grade and, then, every two years after that.
Ages 18 and older are to obtain an eye exam yearly.
“Vision is important to our overall health,” reminds Dr. Rhodes. “Therefore, an eye exam is crucial in making sure our eyes remain healthy as we age.”
However, the above are just recommendations. As a result, it is important to speak to your ophthalmologist or your child’s pediatrician in case more frequent eye exams are necessary.
What Happens to Our Vision as We Age?
Did you know that more than 3.4 million people Americans ages 40 or older are either legally blind or visually impaired, as started by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? As a result, our team at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital wants you to get the facts on glaucoma and cataracts, since these are the two major age-related diseases that affect older adults living in the United States.
“Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness within the United States,” Dr. Rhodes states. “Because there are rarely early signs of glaucoma, it is usually detected when it has progressed, which is why regular eye exams are important for early detection of glaucoma.”
The following are risk factors associated with glaucoma, including:
Being older than age 40
Having a family history of the condition
Having high blood pressure
Having diabetes or problems with blood circulation
Being farsighted or nearsighted
Being of African or Hispanic heritage
“Fortunately, glaucoma, especially if treated early, can be treated in a number of ways, including eye drops and oral medications,” says Dr. Rhodes. “However, if either of those treatment methods don’t work, laser or traditional surgery may be the best option for treatment.”
Symptoms of cataracts, however, can differ from that of glaucoma.
For instance, blurry vision, double vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night are some of the signs associated with cataracts.
“The only way to help correct the damage and vision loss caused by cataracts is through cataract surgery,” explains Dr. Rhodes. “During the procedure, the cataract is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. This helps to restore vision to the eye. Fortunately, cataract surgery can typically be performed on an outpatient basis.”
If you have a family history of cataracts or glaucoma, it is important to let the ophthalmologist know since more frequent eye exams might be needed to help detect these conditions earlier rather than later.
Keep an Eye on Vision Health this Sports’ Season
Every 13 minutes a person seeks medical treatment via an emergency room due to a sports-related eye injury. In fact, the National Institute of Health even states that eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children.
Sports eye injuries include but are not limited to:
Eye socket fractures
Therefore, it is important every athlete wear the proper eye gear for the sport he or she is participating in each season.
“If your athlete already wears glasses, it’s important that he or she wears something other than their glasses that offers the best protection to prevent injury.” States Dr. Rhodes. “If an injury does occur on the field, make sure to seek medical attention to receive the proper care as soon as possible.”
Has it been a while since your last eye exam? Is your vision not as sharp as it used to be? Make an appointment with Dr. Rhodes and her colleagues at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital today!
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