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Five Tips for a Lifetime of Healthy Vision

The American Optometric Association offers sight-saving advice in recognition of Save Your Vision Month

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Vision plays an important role in daily life – every waking minute, the eyes are working hard to see the world around us. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) annual American Eye-Q® survey, 40 percent of Americans worry about losing their eyesight over their ability to walk or hear. 

AOA conducts Save Your Vision Month annually in March to help people preserve vision throughout their lifetime.

"It's easy to incorporate steps into your daily routine to ensure healthy eyes and vision," said Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., president of the AOA. "Eating right, protecting against UV rays and visiting your local eye doctor on a yearly basis are just a few things that can help keep your eyes and vision strong."

1.    Schedule yearly comprehensive exams
Eye care should begin early in life. The AOA urges parents to bring infants six to 12 months of age to their local optometrist for a thorough assessment; under the Affordable Care Act, vision coverage is part of the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit.  The good news is that millions of children (up to age 19) now have access to yearly comprehensive eye exams and follow-up care and treatment, such as eyeglasses, through their local doctor of optometry. Comprehensive exams performed by an optometrist not only evaluate a patient's vision, but can also detect certain serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

"Early detection and treatment is the best way to maintain good vision at any age," said Dr. Munson. "Seeing a doctor of optometry yearly will help keep patients on the path to healthy eyes and vision throughout their lives."

2.    Protect against UV rays
Long-term exposure to the sun poses significant risk not just to your skin, but to your eyes as well. No matter what the season, it's extremely important to wear sunglasses, choosing a pair that blocks more than 95 percent of UV-A and more than 99 percent of UV-B radiation. The AOA provides more information and tips for selection of sunglasses at www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/uv-protection.

3.    Give your eyes a break from digital device use
Two-thirds of Americans spend up to 7 hours a day using computers or other digital devices such as tablets and smart phones. This constant eye activity increases the risk for computer vision syndrome (CVS) and can cause problems such as dry eye, eyestrain, headaches, neck and/or backache, and fatigue. The AOA recommends that people practice the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away). 

In addition, a poorly designed computer station can also contribute to digital eyestrain.  Be sure to correct factors such as improper lighting or uncomfortable seating, viewing angles and reading or working distances to eliminate visual stress and discomfort. A helpful diagram from the AOA on how to set up your desktop computer/laptop can be accessed at www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome.

4.    Eat your greens!
As part of a healthful diet, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day—particularly the leafy green variety.  Six nutrients ― antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc ― have been identified as helping to protect eyesight and promote eye health.  Since the body doesn't make these nutrients naturally, it's important that they are incorporated into a daily diet and, in some cases, supplemented with vitamins.  The AOA's website offers more details at www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition.

5.    Practice safe wear and care of contact lenses
More than 40 million Americans use contact lenses to improve vision; while some adhere to the medical guidelines for wearing contacts, many are breaking the rules and putting their vision at risk. Contact lens wearers who don't follow their optometrist's recommendations for use and wear can experience symptoms such as blurred or fuzzy vision, red or irritated eyes, pain in and around the eyes or, a more serious condition in which the cornea becomes inflamed, also known as keratitis. AOA's contact lens safety Web site offers tips and guidance: www.contactlenssafety.org

To learn more about eye and vision health, or to find a nearby doctor of optometry, please visit www.aoa.orgTo find out how AOA members donate their services to help Americans save their sight through its charitable programs, visit the Optometry Cares–The AOA Foundation website.

About the survey:
The eighth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 15-18, 2013 using an online methodology, PSB interviewed 1,000 Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of U.S. general population. (Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level)

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.

SOURCE American Optometric Association

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