Eye Care Health: How to Protect Your Peepers
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Think you know everything about your eye care health? Think again. Yesterday, Bausch+Lomb released its most recent study with the Global Eye Health Barometer Survey. A brief summary of the study shows that only seven out of 10 people are knowledgeable on the topic and only four of 10 have had an eye exam in the past year. Failing to get an eye exam is usually based on the misconception that if there’s no physically acknowledged eye issue, then a test is unnecessary. Yet even with this misconception, the survey’s key data indicated that people would rather lose their taste, hearing, 10 years of their life, even a limb — yes a limb — before they lose their eyesight.
Dr. Ronald K Watanabe, a professor at the New England College of Optometry, weighs in with how to preserve and protect our beloved oculi.
What are the most prevalent issues in eye health? What cases do patients normally come see you about?
“Glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, all of which can cause blindness, are the most prevalent eye health issues. Many times people will have no symptoms of their eye problem, so patients don’t know that they even need an eye exam. People don’t realize that systemic diseases, such as diabetes, affect eye health, and it is important to raise awareness of this fact.”
What is the typical range and gender of people seeking an optometrist?
“There is a large age range in the family practice that I am a part of. I can do an eye exam on a four-year-old or a 90-year-old on the same day. The problem with younger children is that parents don’t know when to bring their kids in to get an exam. Parents don’t always recognize the signs and symptoms of their child’s vision problems, so the problem is caught too late.”
How does the Boston population compare to other cities in terms of receiving eye care checkups and treatments?
“In my opinion, the Boston area has a more healthy outlook on life in general. There aren’t a lot of differences across cities according to the Barometer of Global Eye Health survey, however, I feel that Boston is more knowledgeable than most other cities. Still, only 27 percent of people see an eye doctor once a year.”
What are your recommendations for how consumers can better manage their eye health?
“Patients with systemic conditions [diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell disease, etc.] or an existing eye condition should get an eye exam every year. The young and healthy should have their eyes checked at least every two years. And for parents with young children, learn to recognize the symptoms of vision problems such as near-sightedness.”