Maintaining healthy vision is an important element of overall wellness. To highlight the importance of eye health and vision care, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has named March “Save Your Vision Month.” Founded by members of the AOA in 1927, this annual public health observance is meant to reiterate that everyone deserves comprehensive eye care and remind patients to reschedule any eye care exams, which may have been postponed due to COVID-19.
Related to the pandemic, this year’s AOA campaign theme, “Eye health is too important to leave up to an algorithm,” is meant to emphasize that healthy vision should not be left to an algorithm or chance. Further, the AOA stresses that doctors of optometry professionals should continue to adhere to federal, state and local health directives to ensure the uninterrupted, safe delivery of essential eye care. Equally important, the association shared that patients should not resort to subpar alternatives or forgo their eye care altogether.
“Safeguarding our patients is our top priority,” AOA President William T. Reynolds, O.D., said. “If patients have not been seen by their doctor of optometry within the past year, our members are ready, willing and able to provide the level of eye care that you need, whether it’s time for a comprehensive eye exam, new contact lenses or eyeglasses, or an urgent care need.”
This “Save Your Vision Month,” the AOA wants to relay to the public that doctors of optometry are able to deliver essential eye care. This goes beyond a vision correction prescription and should be a critical component of patients’ preventive health regimen. Despite the availability of some products that mistakenly give the impression that eye health and vision needs are met, the AOA urges patients to seek out their primary eye health and vision care providers.
Tips to help preserve good vision and healthy eyes
- Wear high-quality sunglasses: Long-term exposure to UV radiation adds up over time and can increase a person’s risk of developing a cataract or macular degeneration. Long-term UV exposure can also cause tissue elevations on the surface of your eye called pinguecula and pterygium. A simple way to deter these forms of eye damage is to purchase and wear high-quality, protective sunglasses.
- Be aware of screen time: Being glued to a computer, smartphone, tablet or other hand-held devices can have a negative impact on vision. The AOA recommends that people observe the “20/20/20 rule.” This means that for every 20 minutes engaging with a digital screen, the user should then take a 20-second break and redirect their vision to something 20 feet away. According to the AOA, other methods of prevention or reduction of vision problems associated with digital eye strain involve taking steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for screen viewing and assuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected.
- Practice proper contacts care: Corneal ulcers have been known to result from patients sleeping in their contact lenses or wearing them for longer than the recommended periods of time. In severe cases, these ulcers can cause permanent eye damage. To avoid these circumstances, patients must practice optimal contact lens hygiene. Generally, contact lens wearers should wash their hands before handling lenses, minimize contact with water and saliva, use recommended contact lens solutions and follow manufacturer guidelines for replacing your contact lenses.
More about the American Optometric Association
The American Optometric Association was founded in 1898 and is the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health. The association represents more than 44,000 doctors of optometry, optometric professionals and optometry students. Today, the AOA is the acknowledged leader and recognized authority for eye and vision care in the world. The organization’s mission is to advocate for the profession and serve doctors of optometry in meeting the eye care needs of the public.