January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.
“Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.”
“…over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.”
Learn more from the Glaucoma Research Foundation webpage.
February is AMD Awareness Month. With Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) you lose central vision, usually in both eyes; this condition is the leading cause of vision loss in people ages 65 and older.
There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
The most common form of the disease is Dry AMD; it’s characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots. Dry AMD can progress at any time to wet AMD. When the wet version of this disease occurs, symptoms usually progresses very rapidly, and may make things appear visually distorted.
There is currently no cure for AMD, but taking multivitamins or eating foods rich in zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene may slow the progression of the disease. Omega3 fatty acids, as found in fish, are excellent for your eye health too.
For more information about Age Related Macular Degeneration, visit the Friends for Sight webpage.
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. From eye injuries to Computer Vision Syndrome, whatever your occupation, take care of your eyes!
If you work in a place where your eyes might be injured from debris or projectiles, or contaminated by chemicals, you already know that PPE safety eyewear is no joke! Take time this month to review your safety plans, inspect your equipment, and refresh staff on eyewash station procedures.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Staring at a computer all day can be a real headache; lessen the strain by taking frequent breaks, staying hydrated, and ensuring that your computer is at the right height/distance from you. Use the 20-20-20 rule (look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes) to prevent eye strain. Blink, use eye drops, and stay hydrated to avoid excessive drying. If it’s late at night, use blue light protection on your phone or monitor to reduce your exposure so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
These are just a few of the things to think of this month as you consider your eye health and wellness at work. For more information, visit Prevent Blindness’ webpage.
April is Sports Eye Safety Month! Spring has sprung and the kids want to get out there and play! Staying active is great for your overall health as well as your eyes, but don’t forget the often overlooked eye protection. Whether it’s baseball, soccer, or even badminton: if something could hit you in the face, you need to wear protective eyewear.
If you need prescription lenses to see, you can either go for contact lenses and safety sport glasses, or prescription sport glasses to keep your eyes safe.
Are you a swimmer? Remember that contact lenses and water don’t mix. If you need to see in the pool, use prescription goggles, and leave the contacts in the locker room. Swimming pools are breeding grounds for bacteria, which is why they use chlorine in the water. But chlorine won’t kill everything, and contact lenses may trap the bacteria you pick up on your eye, exposing you for longer. Your contact lens can also absorb chlorine, even if it’s just hanging in the air, so if you do decide to wear them under goggles, make sure you use dailies, and dispose of them when you’re done.
May is Healthy Vision Month! Healthy vision starts with healthy choices. Studies show that a diet rich in zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, Omega3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin will keep your eyes healthy for years to come.
Tip: Eat a rainbow every day! Dark leafy greens, yellow and orange fruits, red and blue berries, etc, etc… The best way to get the vitamins you need is to eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
In addition to healthy foods, your eyes depend on exercise to keep the blood and oxygen moving to reach them. Moderate exercise a few times a week can go a long way to preventing eye disease as you age. It’s especially difficult for people who work in sedentary office settings to get the recommended exercise they need.
Tip: Do you work at a desk? Take a few breaks during the day to get up and walk around. Even just a few minutes of movement can have a positive effect on your circulation. If you can, work at a standing or cycling desk to help keep you moving throughout the day.
Notice anything off about your vision? If you’re a healthy adult, you most likely won’t need an eye exam every year. However, if you notice any vision issues, such as more floaters than usual, ocular migraines, or anything else unusual, it doesn’t hurt to check. Book an eye exam if you think there might be something wrong, because with eyes, early intervention is key to protecting your vision.
These are just a few ways you can think about your eye health and protect your vision for years to come.
For more information about eye health, visit the National Eye Institute’s page about Healthy Vision Month.
June is Cataract Awareness Month. Cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness. The longer cataracts are left untreated, the more difficult it can be to successfully remove the cataract and restore vision. As with many eye conditions, early detection and treatment is key.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Symptoms of a cataract include:
- Faded colors
- Blurry vision
- Halos around light
- Trouble with bright lights
- Difficulty seeing at night
Most cataracts develop with age, and some are the result of injury to the eye. Rarely, an infant is born with or develops a cataract; congenital cataracts sometimes requires surgery to correct.
To learn more about cataracts, visit All About Vision’s page.
July is UV Safety Month. Did you know that UV rays can penetrate cloud cover? Did you know you can get a sunburn on your eyes? Wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes all year round, not just in the summer.
Visit The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Summer UV Eye Safety page for more information.
August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! Make eye exams a part of your back to school routine. Children’s eyes can change rapidly, so it’s a good idea to get them checked every year. Luckily, Alberta Health covers eye exams for kids! Learn more about how often to get an eye exam on our Frequency of Eye Exams page.
Did you know: Early detection of children’s eye conditions like Strabismus or Amblyopia is important for intervention; Make sure you get your child screened at least once before they are school aged, to detect any problems that can be corrected in their first years of life.
Learn more about Children’s Eye Health and Safety from the Alberta Association of Optometrists.
September is Healthy Aging Month! As you age, your eyes age too.
Presbyopia occurs naturally as you get older, and it’s the reason most seniors require reading glasses (if you’re myopic, your vision may seem to improve as you age). You can’t stop presbyopia from happening, but there are other age related vision conditions that can be slowed. Practice healthy eating and exercise, don’t smoke, and visit an eye care specialist for more frequent eye exams. Check out or Frequency of Eye Exams page for information on how often you should visit an optometrist.
Take care of your body and you’ll take care of your eyes, now and in the future.
For more information about Healthy Aging from the Glaucoma Research Foundation page.