HEALTHY LIVING — August is National Eye Health and Safety Month

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 23, 2019

When we talk about healthy living, one part of the body that is often over looked — no pun intended — are the eyes. We are very concerned with our weight, nutrition, fitness, aches and pains, but let’s not forget our vision. Some people have vision issues from an early age. I received my first pair of glasses in the first grade. My eyes got better over the years until I approached middle age and presbyopia set in. Now, at 63, I can’t drive, read, or use the computer without wearing my progressive lens glasses.

With the school year starting, now is a great time to have your children’s eyes checked. Have they complained of headaches, hold their reading materials too close, sit really close to the TV/computer screen, or have said they have trouble seeing the blackboard at school? These can be clear indicators of vision problems. How about you? Do you have increasing dependence on you readers? Have several pair around the house? Can’t thread a needle? Another sign came from my husband who announced one day, “We need to move the sofa closer to the TV.” Yes, all of these red flags that you need to get your eyes examined.

Especially as we get older, we must take care of our vision. Poor or deteriorating vision can be caused by a variety of issues. Some medications can cause blurred vision. Diabetes, not controlled, can cause blindness. A sudden loss of vision or double vision can be caused by a stroke. Older folks should be checked for glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve and causes blindness.

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There are also eye safety issues that we all need to be aware of. The first is to wear sunglasses! Yes, they’re not just to look glamorous. As we age our eyes become increasingly sensitive and subject to damage from the sun, especially light eyed people. To protect them, always wear sunglasses when you are driving or will be spending any time out in the sun. They do not have to be expensive; they just have to be dark enough that you can look in the mirror and not see your eyes. Of course, if you wear prescription lenses for nearsightedness, please get prescription sunglasses.

When you are working in the yard or on a DIY project, wear safety glasses or your own glasses. Protect your eyes from flying debris or droplets of chemicals.

If you wear contact lenses, clean or change them as prescribed. Dirty or contaminated lenses cause eye infections.

Throw away eye makeup after 3 months. Even that expensive mascara grows bacteria and can infect your eyes. Never, ever, share eye makeup with another person. You are inviting eye infection by doing that.

If you smoke or use tobacco, stop. Tobacco use means a dramatic increase in incidence of macular degeneration as well as raising your risk of developing cataracts and aggravating uncomfortable dry eyes. It also builds up plaque in your bloodstream and weakens arteries. This not only raises your risk of a heart attack, but it can damage the retina and cause vision loss.

Like everything else in life and health, use common sense. When you have your yearly health checkup, include an eye exam with that.

Take care of your eyes; I want you to keep reading my column. Stay healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health and fitness for The Port Arthur News