Healthy Vision Awareness Month

From the Vision Rehab Podcast, May is Healthy Vision Awareness Month.

Hello, and thank you for joining me today on the Vision Rehab Podcast.

The month of May is Healthy Vision Awareness Month. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology 37 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma. That means more than one out of 10 adults in the US has an eye disease that may cause a vision impairment or blindness. That’s the bad news, now here’s the good news.—you can do something about it. The effects of each one of these diseases can be reduced by diet, lifestyle choices, and early detection.

When was the last time you saw an eye doctor? Each one of the eye diseases I mentioned can get a real head start before you even know you have it. The only way to tell you have one of them before you actually start experiencing some vision loss is by getting a thorough eye exam from an ophthalmologist, or eye doctor. According to the Academy, you should have a baseline eye exam starting at age 40 even if you have no indication of having any eye problems whatsoever. Remember, a lot of times there are no early symptoms with these diseases, and they are more common as we get older. By the age of 61, it is recommended that we see the ophthalmologist once a year, or more frequently if they recommend it.

What else can we do? Quit smoking or just never start! Smoking is a risk factor and contributor to both age related macular degeneration and cataracts. Ask yourself, which is more important to you, your vision or your next pack of smokes?

What are you eating? According to the Academy, leafy greens, citrus, and fish high in Omega oils play a big part in a healthy diet for your eyes. Lifestyle choices also include food–what and how much we eat. For example, type 2 diabetes that can develop from excess weight and too little exercise can lead to a type of vision loss called diabetic retinopathy.

Do you wear sunglasses outside? UV light outdoors can contribute to age related macular degeneration and the early development of cataracts. Choose sunglasses that say specifically that they block UV light.

You know, millions of people injure their eyes every year playing sports, on the job, or just doing yard work. Take a minute before these activities to put on protective eye gear—you’ll find a selection as close as your local hardware store. Look for protective wear that’s approved by ANSI. This stands for the American National Standards Institute.

Remember, your vision rehabilitation therapist is not a medical doctor—we can make suggestions and encourage you to see your eye doctor regularly, and provide functional assessments to help you select sunglasses that will reduce glare and offer UV protection. If you’ve experienced a vision loss you’ll find vision rehabilitation therapists, or VRTs, through a local or state rehabilitation agency, and no doctor referral is needed for services. VRTs can help you get back to work or your daily activities, after a vision loss, by learning some adapted skills. A vision loss can sometimes be a game changer, but it doesn’t have to be a game stopper—so get back in the Game again. The best part is there’s often no out of pocket fee for VRT services or it may be provided on a sliding scale to you! If you need help finding a vision rehab therapist near you, just go to the VisionAware directory of services on the web at visionaware.org/directory. Or, if you prefer the phone, call the APH Connect Center at 800-232-5463.

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