In 2003, the National Eye Institute (NEI), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, established May as Healthy Vision Month. The purpose of Healthy Vision Month is to increase awareness of good vision as a national health priority.
Many people are careful about making sure to have an annual eye exam and get regular checkups to monitor their corrective prescriptions – if you’re one of those people, great! But did you know that millions of people in the USA have undetected eye conditions and vision problems? (NIH, 2013)
During Healthy Vision Month, the NEI recommends that Americans take the following steps to help ensure their healthy vision:
- Schedule a comprehensive eye examination; in addition to checking out your overall vision status, this is also the best way to catch eye diseases early, particularly those with no notable warning signs.
- Many eye diseases can be hereditary, so find out your family’s vision history. Talk to family members to see if any close relatives have been diagnosed with an eye disease; if this is the case, be sure to let your eye doctor know.
- Make sure the eyes are protected with safety glasses, goggles, shields and/or eye guards when you or your children are playing sports, and also while working around potentially hazardous equipment and doing household chores (especially those involving chemicals that might spill or splash near your eyes).
- When you go outdoors, wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can damage the eyes in several ways. Try to buy sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UV rays.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle – control your weight, get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods (a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can help keep your eyes working the way they should), manage chronic conditions (especially those that can impact vision, like diabetes and hypertension), don’t smoke – all of these steps can help lower your risk of eye disease.
If you’re considering LASIK eye surgery, May would be a great time to schedule a free consultation to check out your options. And if you’ve already had LASIK eye surgery, take advantage of Healthy Vision Month to make a follow-up visit or your annual eye exam.
By following the NEI’s Healthy Vision Month recommendations, you’ll be taking a pro-active role in helping to prevent vision loss in yourself and your family. Another good way to celebrate Healthy Vision Month is to spread the word about the steps to take to your co-workers and friends.