Eyes on eye health

| April 13, 2013
After 40, an eye exam every 18 months is generally a good rule to follow. At 60, once a year.
After 40, an eye exam every 18 months is generally a good rule to follow. At 60, once a year.

Everyone knows they should have an annual physical and see the dentist for preventive cleanings twice a year. These are recommended visits, and it’s pretty standard stuff. Things change a little as you get older — there are more screenings involving colorectal health and mammograms, but the routine is generally the same. Eye exams and preventive eye care aren’t usually criteria, unless there are other health issues, like diabetes.

For adults with no family history of eye disease and good vision, an eye exam every two to three years is recommended for patients under the age of 40. At 40, a baseline eye examination is definitely recommended. Why? Unfortunately, for all of us approaching this mark, this is the time when early signs of disease and changes in your vision may occur.

After 40, an eye exam every 18 months is generally a good rule to follow. At around 60 years of age, annual eye examinations are recommended because of the increased risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye diseases.

Protection | We protect our skin with sunscreen, but what about our eyes? Most of us are aware of the dangerous effects ultraviolet (UV) rays have on our skin, but few of us realize the danger imposed on our eyes. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can have serious side effects. Scientific studies and research have shown exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years may increase the chance of developing cataracts. It is not yet known how much exposure to UV radiation will cause how much damage, but a good recommendation is to wear quality sunglasses that offer good protection.

There are vitamins associated with improving vision, and most of them have to do with improving overall circulation and health. The circulatory system is closely related to eye health. Deterioration of eyesight is one of the more common complications of poor circulation. Sudden deterioration of eyesight can be a warning sign that there are high levels of plaque in the arteries or blockages in the system. Be aware of blurred and diminished vision: have it checked out immediately. If you have diabetes, an annual eye exam should be mandatory. Diabetes is the third leading cause of blindness in the United States. If you have well-controlled diabetes, a dilated eye examination is mandatory every year. If your diabetes is not under control, your doctor may recommend an examination every three to six months. Diabetic patients have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Early detection is critical in the treatment of diabetes-related eye disease.

The sedentary nature of trucking and the exposure to the sun drivers receive day to day as an order of business pitch two strikes against eye health. Bad on-highway diets and the lack of natural vitamins and minerals consumed compound the problem and make eye care and health something that needs to be talked about.