Routine medical care is finally resuming in most parts of the country. But I’m concerned that we may see it all shut back down again in the fall, in some places.
Given this uncertainty, I encourage you to promptly schedule a visit with your eye doctor. After all, it’s one of the most important routine medical appointments you should make.
At your visit, the eye doctor will check for any number of critical issues…
The eyes are a “window” into your overall health
At the beginning of your exam, your eye doctor will administer drops to dilate your pupils and examine the retina at the back of your eye. This all-important, delicate membrane detects light, converts it to neural signals, and then sends the signals to the brain for interpretation.
At this point, your doctor may also ask you about “floaters” or spots in your vision. Most floaters you see are normal, and they usually stop bothering you within three to six months, as your brain and eyes adjust.
But if you experience persistent “floaters,” the doctor can determine if they’re due to a tear in the retina, which can be quickly repaired.
During a comprehensive exam, your doctor can also detect any signs of glaucoma, tumors, or macular degeneration. (As I recently reported, a new study found that excessive exercise increases a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. So, remember to practice moderation in all things—including exercise—to help protect your health…and even your vision!)
Examining the back of your eye also allows the doctor to get a direct look at the health of your blood vessels and nerves. In fact, the back of the eye is the only place in the body that allows this kind of “window” into your internal health. It’s often where doctors see the early signs of high blood pressure and/or high blood sugar. (If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, make sure to get regular eye exams—in addition to monitoring your blood levels of hemoglobin A1C with an internal medicine physician.)
Now, let’s talk about eyeglass lenses…
Ask lots of questions regarding your eyewear options
As you get older, you may develop both near-sightedness and far-sightedness. And you may find yourself using a different set of glasses for reading versus driving.
If you suffer from this problem, ask your doctor about “progressive” lenses. These lenses improve vision up close and at a distance, so you only need one set of glasses! Plus, progressive lenses can also improve depth perception—which is particularly important while driving.
Most adults should probably also ask for anti-reflective lenses—as they can help cut down on the glare when driving at night.
Plus, if you spend time in front of a camera or webcam (as I do), these anti-reflective lenses will make it easier for the camera to get the right angle—without glaring out your eyes.
I remember back during February 1991, I was on a dozen, major, TV news shows regarding the controversial proposal to clone and test Abraham Lincoln’s DNA from a historic autopsy sample. In one particular interview for the CBS Evening News, the veteran broadcast journalist Bruce Morton (1930 – 2014) suggested I get non-reflective lenses for my eyeglasses. I was surprised no one else had suggested it previously. But I was thankful Morton had—and I wore my new glasses with non-reflective lenses on many more television appearances over the next 10 years.
You can also ask for lenses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause damage to the cornea and contribute to cataracts.
Of course, many people start developing cataracts in their 50s. And by their 80s, more than half of people have had some type of cataracts. Fortunately, these UV-blocking lenses also allow you to enjoy spending time in the sun—without increasing your cataract risk. And if you do still develop cataracts, a quick eye procedure (no more than one hour) removes it completely—with a full recovery in a matter of a few days.
Finally, you can even ask for lenses that block blue light from computer screens, tablets, and phones. But honestly—I’m not sure they’re worth the extra expense…
Are blue light-blocking lenses worth the money?
Blue light falls toward one end of the light spectrum—just before invisible, UV light. And it’s everywhere! In fact, there’s much more blue light in sunlight or a brightly lit room than what’s emitted from an electronic screen. Plus—humans need some daytime exposure to blue light, as it boosts mood, cognitive function, and alertness.
Blue light only poses a problem at nighttime, as exposure to it at night can disrupt your normal sleep cycle.
So, rather than resort to using blue light-blocking lenses, I suggest you simply turn off your computer, tablet, phone, or TV an hour or two before bedtime. (That’s a healthy habit you should adopt anyway for many reasons—including improving mental relaxation!)
P.S. In the May 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, I talked about seven easy, natural ways to reduce your risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other age-related vision problems (“Forget those eyeglasses!”). Subscribers to my newsletter have access to that article as well as all my archives. So, if you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.
“New Vision Tests and Technology Can Help Save Your Sight.” AARP, 6/1/20. (aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/bright-solutions-for-eyes.html)