Thanks to new tools, advanced techniques and sophisticated testing, a comprehensive eye exam has become much more than just a perfunctory vision check. Today, a proper eye exam can tell you an enormous amount of valuable information about not only your eyes, but your overall health and wellness.
Today, trained optometrists, using a state-of the-art suite of equipment and technology, can use precise tools to measure and map virtually every aspect of a patient’s eyesight, from the physical structure and health of the eye itself, to a detailed analysis of each patient’s vision. Advanced retinal imaging technology scans the layers at the back of the eye in order to view the entire depth of tissue, and analytical tools map the contours of the eye itself, distinguishing fine detail at a microscopic level.
Because these technologies can literally see below the surface of the eye to detect subtle issues, an experienced optometrist can identify the earliest signs of potentially threatening conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, as well as environmental exposures and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and improper nutrition. Early detection of such conditions in the initial stages of their development is critical for treatment and prevention.
And, while an annual eye exam should become a regular part of everyone’s health care routine, there are also a number of simple things that can be done in the workplace to protect their eyesight and avoid related health complications.
Posture and positioning
Setting up your computer and work station to have good posture and maximize the comfort and efficiency of your visual system is one of the most important steps anyone can take to protect their eyes. Looking straight ahead at a screen is not as natural or comfortable as a slight down-gaze at a screen. Positioning your computer so that you are facing it at a 7-10-degree downward angle is more comfortable, natural and healthy and can help prevent from any eye strain.
Taking occasional breaks is also a good idea. Looking far away allows your eye muscles to relax and not work so hard to focus, helping to prevent from eye strain. The 20/20/20 rule is a good one to remember: every 20 minutes stare 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Believe it or not, it’s important to remember to blink, as our blink rate drops when we stare at our computer screens. The tear layer is part of the visual system, and if that dries out you can experience eye irritation and have trouble focusing. One helpful tip is to put a small bottle of eye drops or lubricant near your computer to remind you to blink.
It might seem counterintuitive, but many workstations have too much lighting. Too much ambient light actually just causes more glare, and it’s better to let the computer screen do most of the lighting for you.
Regular eye exams are important for everyone because the shape of your eye changes throughout your lifetime, and these small changes alter how the eye focuses. This can lead to eye strain, which in turn, leads to squinting, straining and other compensations that can cause all kinds of larger problems. And, consider the fact that eyes are the window to your whole-body health: vascular system, nutritional uptake to eyes and brain, optic nerve and nervous system.
While it doesn’t take much change to cause strain and stress, it also doesn’t take much to address it. The right prescription and a few simple preventative lifestyle changes can make a transformative positive difference. There are so many things about your health that you can’t control–but you can control having a yearly eye exam, ensuring you have the right prescription and that you are doing the small things to take care of your eyes. When you do that, you will not only be protecting your vision, but your overall health and well-being.