The Link Between Family History and Your Vision

by MikeMeehan 5/23/2017 10:37 AM

I remember learning in school how eye color is determined by the dominant and recessive genes of our parents. Remember the chart we filled in with uppercase and lowercase letters? But when it comes to your vision, you might share more than your parents’ eye color. You could have inherited an eye disease. Just like it’s important to know your family’s medical history for heart and other diseases, it’s the same for your family’s eye health history, suggests the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The National Eye Institute (NIH) recommends talking to family members including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Since some eye diseases are passed down, knowing your family’s eye health history could help determine if you are high risk. May is Healthy Vision Month and knowing your family’s eye health history is one of the five steps the NIH recommends to keep your eyes healthy, along with getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam, using protective eyewear, wearing sunglasses, and living a healthy lifestyle. What to know Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are hereditary and two of the leading causes of blindness in adults, but they don’t have early stage symptoms. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that your risk of glaucoma with increase four to nine times if the disease exists in your family history. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you have a “50 percent chance of developing AMD” if the disease runs in your family. In addition, myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism are common vision problems that have been linked to genetics. What to do Have a discussion with your family. Get regular eye exams, and talk to your vision care provider. After sharing your family’s eye health history with the doctor, she will be able to look for any signs of potential problems. Be proactive about your eye health and overall health. Staying fit and eating fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, will keep you and your eyes healthy. Wearing sunglasses and being aware of eye strain, if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or other electronic devices, are also proactive ways to keep your eyes healthy. While you figure out where your green eyes came from, learn about your family’s eye health history. You’ll be one step closer to healthy vision.

5 Recommendations for Healthy Vision Month

by MikeMeehan 5/18/2017 9:17 AM

Sight could be one of the five senses that we take for granted the most. The National Eye Institute (NIH) says more than 23 million Americans (age 18 and older) have never had an eye exam. That is why Healthy Vision Month is important. Started in 2003, the NIH promotes Healthy Vision Month to encourage us to make eye health a priority. This year the focus is women’s eye health. The NIH made it easy for you to recognize the occasion with five steps to keep your eyes healthy. Check these off your list and keep them in mind not just this month, but all year. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam–Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam with your vision care provider. Some common eye diseases do not have early symptoms, but a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect these diseases in the early stages. Use protective eyewear–Make sure you and your family are using protective eyewear during sports and other recreational activities. A good reminder now that the summer months are here. Also, when you are taking care of chores around the house or if you have a job that could pose a risk to your eyes, safety glasses can prevent injury. Know your family eye health history–Do some research and check in with your family members (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles). Knowing if your family has vision problems or diseases will help determine if you are at high risk. Wear sunglasses–When you purchase sunglasses, pick a pair that blocks out 99-100% of UVA/UVB rays. The sun can have negative effects on your eyes. For example, extended UV exposure can cause cataracts. Live a healthy lifestyle–Your overall health affects the health of your eyes. More specifically, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of diabetes, which can lead to diabetic eye disease and vision loss. Other recommendations–consume healthy foods, refrain from smoking, and manage any chronic health conditions. All of these can be linked to your vision health. Now, participate even more with Healthy Vision Month–share this information with your family and friends. We’re happy you’re not taking your eyesight for granted.

6 Ways to Protect Your Eyes this Allergy Season

by MikeMeehan 4/24/2017 2:28 PM

When spring arrives, I feel hopeful and happy, uplifted by the colors and weather. That is until… my eyes start to itch and my nose starts to tickle. Yes, despite the daffodils and rising temperatures, spring means allergies for me, and I’m guessing if not for you, someone close to you.  So, as your vision benefits provider, we want to make sure you protect your eyes this allergy season. Here are 6 tips to get you started: Avoid exposureTry to minimize your exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed and wearing sunglasses with as much coverage as possible. Whether at home or in your car, air conditioning, filtering the air, can provide some relief. Use eye dropsThere are many brands, so consult your eye doctor for a recommendation. Allergy eye drops will reduce the histamine in your eye tissues, so this might be a good option to directly help your swollen, watery, red and itchy eyes. You can try over-the-counter for your mild symptoms, but if you don’t see improvement, see your eye doctor for prescription eye drops. Remove contact lensesDuring allergy season, wearing your eyeglasses instead of your contact lenses may help with eye allergies. The surface of your contact lenses can collect allergens. Treat with medicationsAgain, if over-the-counter eye drops aren’t enough, oral medications can relieve your eye allergy symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants, and other options can be prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter. Don’t itch!Although it might provide temporary relief, rubbing your eyes can lead to thinning of the cornea and a risk of eye infections. Also, when you rub your allergy eyes, the itching releases more histamines, worsening the symptoms. When the itching becomes unbearable, grab the eye drops instead.  Try other remediesImmunotherapy, steroids and mast cell stabilizers are examples of other treatments you can discuss with your doctor. At home remedies, like a cold washcloth or compress, cucumber slices or tea bags placed on your eyelids can be soothing. Changing your clothes when you get home and showering before bedtime are some other strategies. If you do struggle with the seasonal allergies of spring, we hope you still get to enjoy the positive offerings of the season.

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