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March is Save Your Vision Month

Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms. As a result, individuals are often unaware that problems exist. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems are important for maintaining good vision and eye health, and when possible, preventing vision loss.  Here are some tips to help preserve vision throughout your lifetime:

1. Schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams:  Children should have their eyes examined by 6 months of age, then at age 3, and again before starting school, or as otherwise recommended.  After the age of 6, children and adults should have their eyes examined every 1-2 years, or sooner as indicated.  Regular eye exams are important to screen for any ocular or systemic disease that could threaten the vision or your overall health.   Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer can be detected in the eye and may be the first sign of the disease process.

2.  Wear UV Protective Eyewear: Long-term exposure to UV rays can lead to development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye disease.  Choose a pair of sunglasses that blocks UV-A and UV-B rays.

3. Take Visual Breaks:  Constant use of smart phones and other digital devices can result in computer vision syndrome, dry eye, neck/back pain, and fatigue.  Follow the 20/20/20 rule to take visual breaks during prolonged near work.  Every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.  This will relax your focusing system and alleviate some of those visual symptoms.  Also, make sure you have proper lighting and position your desk and chair to view computer screens comfortably without putting strain on your neck and back.

4. Eat Your Green Leafy Vegetables:  Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxathin, which are crucial to eye health.  Other important dietary nutrients include vitamin C, zinc, and essential fatty acids.   

5. Practice safe contact lens hygeine:  Make sure you adhere to the prescribed wearing and caring regimen for your contact lenses.  Inappropriate adherence to contact lens hygeine can result in serious, vision threatening eye infections. 

Sunglass Shopping Guide

On behalf of Dr. Julie Grove and the staff at 21 North Eyecare, we would like to welcome you to our new blog! Here, we will talk about eye care issues, fashion trends, and new technology. We hope that you will find our posts educational and fun! To kick things off, we invite you to read our Sunglass Shopping Guide:

Many people buy sunglasses as a fashion accessory, but sunglasses shouldn't only be fashionable; they should be functional too. Sunglasses are needed for UV protection, blue-light protection, comfortable vision, and dark adaptation. The sun's UV radiation can cause cataracts, benign growths on the eye's surface, cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes, and photokeratitis (sometimes called snow blindness, which is a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye's surface). Long term exposure to the blue and violet portion of the solar spectrum has been implicated as a risk factor for macular degeneration especially for individuals that are "sun sensitive." The sun's brightness and glare interferes with comfortable vision and the ability to see clearly by causing people to squint and the eyes to water. Spending just two or three hours in bright sunlight can hamper the eyes' ability to adapt quickly to nighttime or indoor light levels. This can make driving at night after spending a day in the sun more hazardous. People should wear sunglasses outdoors whether they are working, driving, participating in sports, taking a walk, running errands or doing anything in the sun. So, what should you look for when purchasing sunglasses? You should choose lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation, screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, are perfectly matched in color and absorption and are free of distortion and imperfection. If color recognition is important (you are an artist or photographer), you should choose gray lenses. If you would like to see softer colors and improve contrast, you should choose brown lenses. Sunglasses are a great accessory, but remember to purchase sunglasses that provide style, comfort, and most importantly, protect the health of your precious eyes.

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21 N. Washington St., Valparaiso, IN 46383