"Seeing well is not an acceptable reason to avoid getting regular eye examinations,” says Dr. Zoe Lazarou, chief of Optometry.
Baltimore, Md. (PRWEB) March 19, 2015
Having good vision does not mean your eyes are healthy. The central vision can remain unaffected and even 20/20 or better, until the end stages of glaucoma and in the presence of other eye diseases or conditions. “Seeing well is not an acceptable reason to avoid getting regular eye examinations,” says Dr. Zoe Lazarou, chief of Optometry at the VA Maryland Health Care System. Many factors can affect eye health, including but not limited to having a personal history of diabetes or hypertension, taking medicines that can affect eyes or vision, and any past history of traumatic brain or eye injuries. A family history of glaucoma, macular degeneration or other hereditary eye diseases are also factors that increase risk for eye and vision problems. “The eye is the only place in the human body that a functioning nerve, arteries and veins can be viewed without cutting the body open. These are all evaluated during the eye examination and reveal a lot about a person's general health,” said Dr. Lazarou. “Early signs of diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and carotid artery stenosis are often detected with an ocular health exam, and lead to diagnosis and management of these life threatening conditions.”
Glaucoma, one of the top causes of blindness, affects more than 2 million people in the U.S., including approximately 285,000 Veterans. Called “the silent thief of sight,” it progresses slowly without any symptoms until in the advanced stages, affecting the optic nerve. Regular, routine examinations allow for early detection and treatment, reducing the risk of life altering permanent vision loss.
Risk factors for glaucoma:
- People 60 and older with a family history of glaucoma, any past history of eye injury, traumatic brain injury, or use of corticosteroid medications
- African Americans 40 and older, and Hispanics 60 and older are at higher risk than Caucasians
Implement the 20/20/20 rule:
- When performing any visually demanding tasks such as reading, using a computer, tablet or other device, every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away to relax your focusing system.
- Make a point to blink a few times to avoid excessive drying.
Schedule routine eye exams:
- Every 2 years for adults aged 18-60 if they are symptom free and not considered to be in a higher risk group for eye disease.
- Every 1-2 years, or as directed by your eye care professional, if no higher risk traits for eye problems or conditions exist.
- Every year for adults 61 years or older, or as recommended by their eye care practitioner.
Editor’s Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Zoe Lazarou about eye and vision wellness, please contact Rosalia Scalia at rosalia.scalia(at)va(dot)gov or at 410.605.7464.