I was compensated for my participation in the World Sight Day op for The Motherhood.  All opinions are my own.

I sat in on an informative call the other day with Desiree Carrillo-Owen, OD. She’s a Medical Adviser to the Vision Council and an Optometrist at the North Shore Eye Center in Chicago, IL. It was a chance to learn more about World Sight Day and the importance of caring for our children’s eyes.

World Sight Day was on the 10th, but every day is a good day to consider your sight. Through the chat, I discovered that optometrists can perform noninvasive tests that can find health as well as vision issues. In fact, routine eye exams do more than uncover vision issues; they also find health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, strokes, diabetes, and brain disorders.

But why get your eyes checked? Because according to Dr. Carrilo-Owen, your eye is the strongest muscle in your body and it processes up to 36K bits of information every hour. Even more important, kids learn about 80% through their eyes, but up to 25% of children have eye problems so they may not be able to see the whiteboard or read a book. This inability to learn because of sight problems can affect their self-confidence for a lifetime.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Vision:

Digital Eyestrain 

Prolonged time in front of screens is causing dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, back and neck pain. These symptoms can be alleviated with some simple changes in how you work. First, our eyes were not designed for computer screens, and the blue light they omit can cause us to blink less. Use the 20-20-20 rule – stop every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. It will force you to blink and change your focus. Other tips – clean your screen, reduce the glare of lighting, and move the computer screen to about 24” away from your face. Talk with your eye doctor about eye strain – there are glasses which can help.

Eye Protection Around the House

Using appropriate eye protection can help prevent eye injury. One fourth of all eye injuries come from working around the home and in the yard. 90% of all home eye injuries are preventable with safety goggles. Wear them while mowing, cutting, using power tools, and even fertilizing – they protect your eyes from flying projectiles and chemicals.

Sports Goggles

Protective goggles can save your vision. They can be worn over your current eyewear and protect you from hits, bumps, and flying projectiles.

UV Radiation

It’s present all year round, and damage is cumulative. This cumulative damage can be prevented by wearing UV-protective sunglasses all year round. Look for UVA/UVB protective stickers on glasses. Price has nothing to do with UV protection, buy sunglasses from a credible source and choose a pair you feel comfortable in. Keep them handy and wear them!

Sunglasses and Kids: Sadly more than 40% of parents fail to proactively protect their children’s eyesight by providing them with UV protective sunglasses. Even very young children should wear sun protective eye wear. Buy quality glasses and not novelty – the UVA/UVB protection is the key. Glasses with a strap can help keep them in place. Treat your child’s sunglasses as a reward and only allow children to wear them outside and not as a play toy. Hats and visors block the UV rays from the skin, but they don’t protect eyes. Sunglasses are still required.

 Dangers of UV Radiation on the Eyes - protect your vision @opticalindustry #WorldSightDay ad

Low Vision and Aging

30 million Americans have uncorrected vision. Routine exams help you see clearly. Work with your eye care professional to prevent issues like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa. Your doctor can implement an individual plan to rehabilitate your eyesight and improve your life. That may include medication, eyeglasses, or even surgery.

Know your family’s history. Congenital issues do exist, and many are hereditary. Talk to your family and find out what you’re likely to face. Information arms you and your doctor.

Maintain your personal health – eat dark leaving greens like kale and spinach and fish. Maintain a healthy weight and keep your blood pressure under control. Exercise. Quit smoking, and avoid the risks of infection by washing your hands before you touch your eyes.

Don’t take your vision for granted – once damaged it can’t be regenerated. There are tools, resources, and products available to help. Children should be seen at six months of age for their initial exams.

Where can I get more information?

UV Safety Infographic
US Map of 25 Top UV Danger Zones