Telemedicine for Veterans - Smart Vision Labs

Honoring our Veterans through Telemedicine

Honoring our Veterans through Telemedicine

Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, remembers all the men and women who died serving our country. It’s a day to reflect on their sacrifices and to honor their memories.

Usually, at the forefront of these observances are the veterans, men and women who have served our country faithfully and have been discharged from duty. They truly understand what it means to be part of the United States Armed Forces. While November 11 has been set aside to honor them, perhaps we should consider honoring them year round with some practical things.

Like healthcare.

Battling for Healthcare Benefits

Most people would agree that keeping our country safe is paramount, yet the people who willing serve our country often find themselves in a different kind of battle when their time in the armed forces ends. If the landscape of healthcare for veterans was a military operation, it’s no wonder that there are so many casualties.

Recent investigations of the Veterans Health Administration have uncovered problems with policies and practices that have resulted in excessively long wait times and secret wait lists at many Veterans Affairs facilities. Sadly, veterans have even died before receiving healthcare. This is no way to honor these people.

While comprehensive changes are promised to overhaul this entire system, there are ways to immediately support our veterans’ right to quality healthcare.

Telemedicine—Right Here, Right Now

Telemedicine is a simple and powerful concept: use technology to connect patients and doctors. Telemedicine breaks down the barriers of time and space, enabling patients to receive on-demand care regardless of geographic locations. The technologies support healthcare in many areas such as mental health, audiology, non-invasive cardio, dermatology, and vision exams.

What does this mean for veterans? Gone are the incredibly long wait times and gone are the “mission impossible” reasons why they cannot see the doctor on their own terms and times. What takes the place of these things is quality healthcare for the men and women who faithfully served our country.

Through the use of the telemedicine platform, health care access can be extended for veterans while creating a viable collaboration between a network of doctors. This technology is already being used and is generating positive results for both patients and doctors. Telemedicine is cost-effective, makes better use of time, and is available to everyone, regardless of mobility issues or geographic locations.

If a veteran needs to consult with a specialist or wants a second opinion, that is more easily accomplished through the telemedicine technology. How about a vision exam? That’s not only possible but is more practical. Ophthalmology and telemedicine are proving to be a perfect fit with on-site devices to collect data from the patient and licensed doctors reviewing this information through cloud-based technology.  The veteran is assured of a thorough and accurate vision exam in a timely manner.

Optical Telemedicine - Smart Vision Labs

Reconnoiter

Veterans are familiar with this term since any military action begins with a preliminary investigation to gather information and to assess strengths and weaknesses. If a veteran were to use this principle to examine telemedicine, the data would include the type of equipment necessary and the ease of operating such equipment.

The telemedicine technology uses devices that are accessible and familiar, like computers, tablets, and smartphones. Veterans can now come to many of the VA’s community-based outpatient clinics and connect to a doctor through these video technologies. They will be helped as they navigate the system and receive care from a physician.

For those veterans who may have mobility issues, are limited by transportation, or live in rural areas, telemedicine can come to them. Without leaving their homes, veterans can use this technology to connect to a doctor for a wide range of medical services. If they need to see a physician to have medication changed or to monitor a current prescription, telemedicine saves them the cost and inconvenience of traveling to the VA facility.

Telemedicine can help veterans win the battle for quality healthcare.

Doctor on Demand, a platform with which people can see doctors through videoconferencing
Doctor On Demand, a platform with which people can see doctors through videoconferencing

 

Telemedicine Specialties

The same things which make telemedicine a convenient and cost-effective service for average citizens make the difference between veterans being able to receive health care or not. Having access to licensed doctors, who may be in a different city or even country, creates a new route to health care. Affordable options, with or without insurance coverage, make the decision to see a doctor a question of health, not of finances.

The virtual communication link telemedicine creates between doctors and patients is a perfect solution to several problems common among our veterans. Skin conditions, mental health concerns, and vision exams are all medical issues which telemedicine is perfectly equipped to handle without sacrificing quality care. Veterans who have difficulty seeing a doctor in person, due to either physical or mental reasons, can now address these issues using telemedicine. Virtual vision tests using a smartphone, uploading images of a skin condition, or being able to talk to a counselor are all ways telemedicine can help veterans have quality health care and quality of life.

Skin Care

Dermatology is one discipline which has found a foothold in the field of telemedicine. Online communication and sending images is an affordable way to alleviate one’s fears about a strange spot on the skin or to find out if a mole needs removal.

Previously, if a veteran had to see a dermatologist, it might have been a day-long affair of coordinating family or friends’ schedules to help them get to the doctor and back safely. But using telemedicine turns that doctor trip into taking and sending a digital picture and filling out an online form with any symptoms. If a prescription is needed, the teledermatology site will connect your medication information to your local pharmacy.

Many common skin conditions and rashes can be cared for just as effectively using telemedicine as they can with an in-person dermatologist. Eczema, psoriasis, and acne are some skin problems which teledermatology is targeting and creating accessible and affordable treatment options. Once such service, FirstDerm, estimates that 70 percent of patients who seek help through their app can be treated with an over-the-counter medication. The remainder is referred to a local dermatologist for further examination. Treating skin conditions through telemedicine apps and sites can eliminate the time and cost associated with an unnecessary doctor visit.

The affordable aspect telemedicine brings cannot be overlooked. Many common skin conditions, while they can reduce the quality of life, are not life-threatening emergencies. People will turn to inexpensive, yet less-effective, ointments and creams from a drug store shelf rather than pay for insurance and out-of-pocket fees associated with visiting a dermatologist. Most telemedicine dermatologist services can be used for less than $100. Some even take certain insurance plans.

Dermatologist On Call, a telemedicine service which connect patients to dermatologists
Dermatologist On Call, a telemedicine service which connect patients to dermatologists

Mental Health

Mental health issues in veterans may have resulted from a combination of their dangerous service while abroad and inadequate care when back home. Two serious disorders which affect veterans’ mental health are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The exact prevalence rates for these vary: between 11 and 30 percent for PTSD. Out of every 10 veterans who suffer from PTSD, at least 2 also have SUD.

Causes of PTSD are not only attributed to experiencing atrocities of war. High stress permeating the day-to-day war environment, the political climate surrounding the war, and high rates of sexual harassment for both men and women contribute to the prevalence of PTSD and other mental health issues. A RAND study on PTSD in veterans found that only 50 percent sought out treatment for their condition. Out of this group, only half found treatment which was merely “minimally adequate.”

Substance abuse is another problem plaguing the veteran community. Certain types of substances, namely alcohol and prescription medication, have high addiction rates in veterans. Studies speculate that there is a link between the insufficient mental health care offered to veterans (citing high rates of PTSD, depression, and suicide) and attempts to treat their condition on their own with self-medication. Other veterans with chronic pain management issues are given strong prescriptions which they then become addicted to.

There are many reasons so many veterans do not seek out treatment for mental health issues. For one, there is still a stigma associated with having a mental health disorder or seeking help for addiction. Veterans who were once strong in defending their country may be hesitant to admit what seems like “defeat.” Many soldiers also come from rural areas without a nearby VA medical facility.  Others may choose not to go to a doctor in a VA setting because of long waits or perceived lack of quality care.

Telemedicine offers a way to connect qualified mental health professionals with the veterans who need one. In a few ways, seeking mental health care through telemedicine is turning out to be an effective method of treatment. Both PTSD and SUD need to be met with consistent, recurring treatment sessions. The accessibility of videoconferencing with a doctor through an app versus driving to their office makes it far more likely the patient will show up for their “appointment.”

telemedicine breakthrough
Breakthrough, a telehealth platform for mental health

Vision Care

Another area where veteran-specific healthcare needs support is eye and vision care. As with mental health services, many veterans are either reluctant or unable to receive vision care from their local VA. If they can even access it. Other veterans are physically incapable of waiting long times for treatment from the VA or don’t qualify for care. Veterans who do meet the VA’s requirements for care may not meet the threshold for 100 percent of it to be paid for. Cost should not be a concern when health and quality of life is on the line, especially for a veteran who may have gotten their vision problems during their time of service.

Telemedicine for vision care has been growing and establishing itself as a changing force in the eye care industry. Average consumers have had access to smartphone-based vision tests allowing them the option to update their eyeglass or contact lens prescription without making an appointment at the eye doctor. This allows the consumer to have more control over their purchase, which responds to some veterans’ worry that their local VA doesn’t have adequate resources. These veterans are so frustrated with the system currently that they decide to seek out healthcare on their own for higher quality. Telemedicine for vision offers to meet these needs.

Not only does the patient get to select their own healthcare provider, they don’t have to leave their home or wait in a busy waiting room to receive care. Depending on their level of mobility, they can visit a local optical store hosting a Smart Vision exam or have someone meet them in their home with a portable vision test. Their results are sent to and interpreted by licensed optometrists who can write a prescription, if needed. They can then order contact lenses or glasses from an online distributor and test frames out using their webcam or by uploading a digital photo.

Telemedicine technology creates a way to honor our veterans by listening to and responding to their healthcare needs. Connecting doctors with patients using mobile apps and videoconferencing answers veterans’ needs for accessibility. Treatment options which are affordable, even without insurance, relieve their financial burden. Fields of medicine which cater to veterans’ problems in mental health, dermatology, and vision care improve their quality of life.

Yes, veterans like to be honored with parades, but when it comes down to day-to-day living, let’s give them better healthcare options.

Smart Vision Labs Eye Care Telemedicine Solutions

 

Related Readings

What Your Customers Want to See In Your Optical Store
Can Telemedicine Replace Your Eye Doctor
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”


Can Telemedicine Replace Your Eye Doctor - Smart Vision Labs

Can Telemedicine Truly Replace Your Eye Doctor?

“I love your new glasses! And I am so happy that you finally got your vision checked.”

Your friend laughs and agrees that it took a while to admit that reading a book with outstretched arms was not the smartest (or most comfortable) thing to do.

“Where did you get your vision checked? Did you have a long wait?”

She laughs again and says that the entire exam was about 5 minutes.

You don’t laugh because when you went to the eye doctor you were there for over an hour.

“Huh?”

Your friend explains that she went to an optical store for the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam.

“But don’t you need to see an eye doctor?”

Good question and one that a lot of people are asking. Can a 5-minute vision exam replace your eye doctor? The answer is yes and no.

Vision Exams vs. Eye Exams

A vision exam, like the one provided through Smart Vision Labs, is known as a refraction test which measures a person’s need for prescription glasses or contacts.

Eye exams are comprehensive evaluations that include a refraction test, examination of both the external and internal parts of the eyes, and a test of the fluid pressure.

Both of these exams are valuable diagnostic tools to maintain optimal eye health.  In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends that people between the ages of 18 and 60 get a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years.

Telemedicine and the Eye Doctor

Telemedicine doesn’t seek to replace the eye doctor; this technology works alongside licensed ophthalmologists who review the data generated at the exam and to write prescriptions if needed. It would be best to take the “us vs. them” mentality out of the equation. Telemedicine is an effective way to diagnose and offer corrective lenses.

With telemedicine, the doctor is always “in.” With cloud technology, the doctor can access a patient’s records and make an appropriate diagnosis. This is not only convenient, it’s a cost-effective option. People in rural areas or those who are homebound also benefit because they do not have to physically show up at an office for a vision exam. Through video conferencing and smartphone apps, doctor can actually connect with more patients than ever before.

Something Old, Something New

Telemedicine is one of the most significant heathcare trends, yet it really isn’t new. While its presence and potential is literally disrupting the eyecare industry on all levels, it is able to do that now because of the recent advances in technology. Add to that a patient base which is looking to save time and money, and there is no question that telemedicine is able to outperform the older methods of doctor and patient communication.

But should you never schedule an in-person visit with an eye doctor again? No. Have your eyes examined at least every two years with an in-person visit.

But also make use of telemedicine for vision exams. And here’s a secret that sets telemedicine apart from the old ways. People will take a proactive stance with their vision care when they can get an exam at their convenience, without long waiting times, and be able to afford it.

Telemedicine gives power to the patients without diminishing the role of healthcare professionals. And that’s a healthy vision we can all embrace.

Related Posts
Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Vision Industry Disruptors!
What’s the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?
How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?


Should you fire your eye doctor? - Smart Vision Labs

You Really Should Have Your Eyes Examined!

Did you ever see a unicorn? Or maybe pink elephants? How about a fireworks display in the middle of your living room?

If you said, “Yes” to any of these, you are not alone. People have reported seeing these things, but…well…they may not actually have been there. But that’s okay. There is a way to ‘see’ things a bit clearer. Hold on.You Should Have Your Eyes Examined

There Goes a Unicorn!

Unicorns are happy creatures even though they have that (seemingly annoying) horn right in the middle of their head. On the bright side, those horns were magical and were believed to counteract poison and purify water. There have been numerous unicorn sightings over the centuries and many cultures recognize this creature as being very real.

But if you have seen a unicorn lately, the best advice may be to have your eyes examined.

You may not have actually seen a unicorn; maybe it was a deer with only one antler? A vision exam may reveal that you have trouble focusing on distant objects. Like a deer.

This condition is called nearsightedness and happens when the light that enters the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of on its surface. This creates a blurry image for distant objects.

But there is a fix to this. Prescription glasses or contacts can bend the light to the right focal point and eliminate the blurriness. This may also stop you from seeing a deer with one antler and calling it a unicorn.

Aren’t Pink Elephants Pretty?

You Should Have Your Eyes Examined!This one is a bit tricky since elephants are not pink. Okay, a super rare albino elephant might be pinkish but it would also be super rare for you to see one. The best advice may be for you to have your eyes examined.

This vision problem is seeing the wrong color. This is a fairly common condition among men with about 1 in 12 being affected by it. For women, that number is lower. Only 1 in 200 has trouble discerning the correct color of an object. This is often an inherited trait, and there is no cure for it. Affected people learn ways to cope with decisions concerning color.

It’s caused when the photoreceptors in the retina (which are called rods and cones) do not respond properly to the wavelengths of light that enable people to distinguish color.

If you are color blind, it’s best to not mention the pink elephants. (But they are kind of cute, aren’t they?)

Fireworks in the Living Room?

Have you ever seen a display of flashing lights even though it wasn’t the 4th of July? This happens and is more common with age. But the best advice may be for you to have your eyes examined.

The eye is filled with clear gel called vitreous and it may pull away or rub against the retina. Since the retina is highly light-sensitive, this causes the light entering the eye to be improperly ‘seen.’ Flashes of light are the result and a vision exam is definitely in order.

Even though unicorns, pink elephants, and flashes of light may be interesting to see, it might be best to investigate them a little further.

You really should have your eyes examined!

Related Posts
Why Did You Skip Your Vision Exam?
No Stress Vision Exams
Vision Exams and Eye Health
How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?


What's Your Eyes' Age?

eat to protect your eyes - Smart Vision Labs

What’s Your Eyes’ Age?

Hold off on ordering yet another wrinkle cream because it might be your eyes giving your age away. Some things you’re probably doing every day are actually bad habits that can make your eyes seem older.

There are three main things your eyes react to which create an aging appearance: your health, irritation, and physical damage. These problems can build on each other which emphasize how important your overall health is.

What’s Your Beauty Eye-Q?

Is part of your beauty regimen eating well and drinking enough water? Your eyes benefit from a healthy diet and good hydration, inside and out. Dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, almonds, and eggs all contain key nutrients your eyes need to be functioning optimally. Those things could all even be part of a nice breakfast. When your eyes are working at their best, they’re not straining and creating redness and irritation.

Did you remember to pour a glass of water with your breakfast? You’ve noticed your eyes seem dry after spending a few hours working on a computer for work or after studying for a big exam at school. But one other way you might find yourself rubbing your dry eyes is if you are dehydrated. Stopping work to drink a glass of water gives your eyes a break by allowing them to focus on something else while you rehydrate them. This is especially true if you’ve been doing something that dehydrates your body, say, like drinking a few cups of coffee to stay awake while working.

Beauty Rest

It isn’t called ‘beauty rest’ for nothing. Nothing completes the “I was up all night” ensemble like puffy eyelids above your red eyes and dark circles below them. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood vessels dilate and become visible through the thin skin under your eyes. ‘Bags’ below your eyes, as well as puffy eyelids, are caused by fluid retention. Both of these can usually be fixed and prevented by making sure you’re getting a good rest at night.

When your eyes are tired, do you rub the lids to make them feel better? That is definitely a bad habit. Tugging on the delicate eye skin creates lines and wrinkles that make you appear older. While some creasing and things like crow’s feet are a normal part of aging, breaking the habit of touching your eyes will keep any extra lines from showing up.

Just Hide It?

protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses and filter out the harmful UV raysYou have places to be and things like ‘sleep’ and ‘healthy breakfast’ are not on the to-do list. Your quick fix could be wearing some big designer sunglasses, like the kind that seem to cover half of your face.

Actually, this one is a good idea. Yes, the sunglasses will hide your red eyes and dark circles but they will also protect your skin from sun damage. Since this pair protects against 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays (or else you wouldn’t have bought them), their large lenses block the harmful rays from reaching your skin.

So put your shades on for now. Try to remember to get a good night’s rest when you finish your busy day. It turns out, keeping your eyes looking young and keeping them healthy are the same thing.

Related Posts
Eye Health Begins with You
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Do Eye Exercises Really Improve Vision?
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing


forget using a phoroptor - get a vision test with the best technology from Smart Vision Labs

Why Did You Skip Your Vision Exam?

get a vision exam with today's technology from Smart Vision Labs not tech from the 1800s

There should only be one way to answer that question: “I didn’t.”

However, although 114 million eye exams are performed each year, there are 240 million Americans who have some type of vision problem.

So someone has been skipping a vision exam, right? That isn’t you though, is it?

Why is there such a difference in the number of people who need vision correction and those who actually go for an eye exam?

no vision insurance no problem with Smart Vision Labs everyone can get their vision tested

Affordable? Insurance?

It (mostly) comes down to money. A CDC survey of people with vision problems over 40 found the most commonly cited reasons for not getting routine eye exams were due to the cost of treatment. Both lack of vision insurance and not being able to afford the visit made up nearly 40 percent of the reasons why people skipped their eye checkup.

The group most likely to state a cost-prohibitive reason for their lack of vision care was between the ages of 40 to 64. This is also the age when many age-related vision problems (such as presbyopia) begin to make themselves known.

What Other Reasons Could There Be?

So, you noticed it “mostly” comes down to money. What are the other reasons?

The next most influential decision maker in refusing vision care is some good old self-diagnosis… or lack thereof. 35 percent of people stated they didn’t go to the eye doctor because they didn’t feel they needed a vision exam.

Let’s back up for a moment. The survey involved people over 40 who have “moderate to severe visual impairment” which is defined through actions such as struggling to read a newspaper. 35 percent of people with noticeable vision problems don’t think they need a vision exam. For the rest, regular vision exams will also alert the person to any developing problems that aren’t big enough to notice but that are at the perfect time to correct, preventing further damage.

Nearly 5 percent said they had difficulty getting an appointment scheduled which prevented their checkup. Although this percentage is far smaller than the other two statistics, it represents another completely different issue. Why can’t these people find appointments? Is their schedule or their doctor’s the problem? Is it caused by an understaffed office or maybe the patient is homebound? This 5 percent has both the money and desire to get their eyes checked but are not receiving treatment.

A Real Way for Affordable Eye Care

Smart Vision Labs has a way to address each of these groups to present them with the opportunity to receive vision care using telemedicine and their 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam.

Those without adequate vision coverage will be pleased to find out how affordable a vision test can be without involving their health insurance at all. In this way, Smart Vision Labs is helping to honor the ideals of the Affordable Care Act, even when the law itself can’t fix everything.

Appointments, scheduling, and creating time are also far simpler. After the short vision test is complete, the results are sent to an ophthalmologist who reviews them. You get your prescription through a secure online portal which protects your privacy and gives you control over how you use your own medical information. Having the prescription on a computer makes it easy to purchase glasses or contacts online so finding time to try on glasses turns into browsing websites at your leisure.

For that group who just “doesn’t need it,” perhaps they just need to see the ease and affordability of a vision exam. It doesn’t hurt at all to go, whether they end up with a prescription they didn’t think they would get or bragging rights that they didn’t require corrective glasses and were right all along.

But affordably caring for your eyes is never a wrong decision.

Related Posts
No Stress Vision Exams
Vision Exams and Eye Health
How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?


eye phones (iphones) and eye strain - Smart Vision Labs

Eye Phones?

Eye Phones?

Do you know what the “i” in iPhone stands for? When Steve Jobs first introduced the iMac, back in 1998, he mentioned that the “i” stood for “Internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.”

But do you know how your iPhone impacts your “eyes?”

“i” Strain

Even if you have the biggest, baddest iPhone on the market, the screen is still relatively small. When you use your phone to check your emails, the weather report, or Facebook status updates, you are forcing your eyes to read small print. Now, that’s fine for a limited time, but prolonged use causes eye strain.

While your eyes can and should be able to read small text, the problem arises when we stare at the phone. Trying to focus on the phone’s screen for extended periods of time decreases the normal functioning of the eyes. It specifically affects the amount of times we blink.

Ideally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this amount can be cut in half if we are reading on the phone simply because we are staring at the mini text. If you have never thought about blinking, now’s a good time to realize how important it is.

Blinking is essential because it coats the eyes with three layers of tears. The first layer is protein-rich moisture, the second washes away debris while nourishing the cornea with minerals, and lastly is an oily layer to provide needed lubrication. Without blinking, the eyes do not get what they need for optimum functioning.

“i” Need Glasses?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition in which you may have difficulty seeing objects in the distance but see well for reading or other tasks that are closer to your eyes. This condition is believed to be part hereditary and partly due to environmental factors. One of these factors can be putting stress on the eyes by continually focusing on close objects.

Yes, staring at your iPhone and reading the small text for extended periods of time can be a contributing factor. You may need corrective lenses but you also can “correct” the way you look at your phone.

eye phones (iphones)- how to prevent eye strain - Smart Vision LabsWhat Can “i” Do?

The 20-20-20 rule might be the easiest thing to implement. Basically, you take a break from staring at or reading from your phone every 20 minutes. Then for the next 20 seconds, you look into the distance, at least 20 feet ahead. This simple action allows your eyes to briefly rest and reduces eye strain.

Another easy way to help your eyes is to hold your phone a little farther away. Most people hold their phones about 8 inches from their eyes; this is much closer than they would hold a book or newspaper. By doubling the distance to 16 inches, the eyes wouldn’t be stressed as much.

And if you are having difficulty reading text from your phone at that distance, it’s time for a vision exam. In fact, if you are spending (dare I say) hours, on your phone every day, then you are definitely due to have that exam.

We all love our iPhones; let’s show some love for the other “eye” in your life.

Related Posts
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
“Eye” Don’t Want To!
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing


do eye exercises work - Smart Vision Labs

Do Eye Exercises Really Improve Vision?

Eye Fitness or Fallacy?

“Throw away your glasses! Improve vision naturally!”

“Do eye exercises really improve vision?”

There are two camps regarding eye exercises: why aren’t you doing them and why are you doing them? The kind of health blog you follow will determine which stance you’re familiar with.

Aid or Crutch?

The first group says visual aids, like prescription glasses and contact lenses, are a crutch for your eyes. They claim you can reduce or even eliminate your need for vision correction by following a regimen of eye exercises.

The idea behind this is that most people are born with good eyesight but around 70 percent of Americans have vision problems. Therefore, most of these issues are acquired through regular life events. If you did something to create them, they can also be undone through training the eye muscles. For this reason, eye exercises tend to focus on reversing myopia, or nearsightedness.

Does it Make Sense?

do-eye-exercises-workThat kind of makes sense though, right? If your arms are weak, you get a gym membership and some barbells, and gradually increase the weights until your muscles are strong.

The problem here is that, yes, you can make muscles stronger through working out, but your eyes aren’t muscles; they are controlled by them. Each eye has six muscles on the outside which control your line of sight and one inside which moves your focus in or out. This last one, called the ciliary muscle, is what eye exercises for myopia are usually targeting. The exercises suggested are really getting you to relax this muscle. This is based on the idea that if myopia is acquired through strain and tension of the ciliary muscle, relaxing will undo it.

But vision problems like nearsightedness are refractive errors. These happen when light doesn’t reach the correct part on the inside of the eye (the retina) due to the eyeball itself being the wrong shape. Exercising the muscles in and around the eye can’t really do anything for these problems. In myopia, the eye shape is too long for the focusing muscle, regardless of how relaxed it is.

Are Eye Exercises Safe?

Depending if your stance on eye exercises is favorable or not, you might be surprised to learn these workouts are safe to do. (Just don’t drive or do anything important with your glasses off to test out any of these exercise theories!) The upside of not having a positive effect on vision is that they also don’t cause negative ones. It doesn’t hurt at all to sit on the floor with your hands over your eyes imagining being enveloped in pure darkness. Relaxation is good; just don’t expect better vision when you finally open your eyes.

Do keep in mind what you’re “learning” though. Picturing darkness just relaxes yourself, which actually might show you temporary improvement if you are suffering from eye strain, but not myopia. Rolling your eyes (like you might be doing right now at this article?) doesn’t use the interior focusing muscle at all. Reading numbers off a calendar without your glasses or contacts is just teaching you to read through your blurry vision, not to improve it.

Oh, there’s also no scientific studies or evidence to support these claims.

It might be a good idea to keep your glasses a little while longer and to have regular vision exams. They actually work, which is more that can be said for some of these eye workouts.

Related Posts
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew
Becoming Blind Ranked in Top 4 Worst Things that Could Happen to You
Eyecare Myths – Busted


Becoming Blind is a top 4 fear - Smart Vision Labs

Becoming Blind Ranked in Top 4 Worst Things that Could Happen to You

Sight is our most important sense so it follows that we greatly fear losing it. Thankfully, vision deterioration or blindness are not inevitable outcomes of life or aging. Taking care of your eyes will help ensure you can keep seeing life to the fullest for the rest of yours.

The Biggest Fear?

A poll from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology found Americans believe losing their vision would create the largest impact on their lives. It ranked even higher than the loss of other important functions, like memory or speaking. Becoming blind was in the top four “worst things that could happen to you,” right alongside diseases with huge life-altering effects, like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

But losing your sight is preventable so this is a fear you may never have to face.

glaucoma-and-vision-loss - prevent blindnessGlaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the major causes of blindness. It affects vision through high fluid pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve, which is what connects your retina to your brain. Your eye contains fluids which flow to nearby tissues. If this fluid leaves the eye too slowly and begins building up, it stresses the optic nerve and causes vision loss. High blood pressure is another risk factor for this condition.

People with glaucoma develop tunnel vision. Their sight darkens, first peripherally, before gradually moving inward, eventually causing blindness.

Because there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment relies heavily on early detection. Regular vision tests check for loss of peripheral vision and dilated eye exams allow your doctor to examine the state of your retina and optic nerve. Medication for glaucoma focuses on lowering eye pressure to protect the optic nerve from further damage and to preserve the remaining sight.

Glaucoma and vision loss - prevent blindness with eye examsCataracts

Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness worldwide. These occur when the proteins which are naturally part of the lens of the eye begin to cluster together. It typically begins in one small area and spreads outward as more proteins become part of the original clump.

A person with cataracts will have blurry vision and colors will appear less vivid.

The formation of cataracts isn’t only related to aging. Some health conditions like obesity and diabetes may raise one’s risk of developing cataracts. Certain types of medications, statins and corticosteroids, are linked to cataracts. UV ray exposure from sunlight is another risk factor.

vision before and after cataractsDiabetic Retinopathy

A damaging side effect of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. It can cause blindness if untreated.

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much sugar flowing in the bloodstream. Sugar molecules are sharp and damage the blood vessels as they travel along them. If the tiny vessels which nourish your eyes are injured, blood and fluids leak, causing blurry vision. If left to progress, the body will generate new blood vessels on the retina which actually creates scar tissue. These new vessels are very delicate and prone to bleeding. Eventually, this condition can lead to retinal detachment and complete vision loss.

Early detection is key to preventing vision loss. Vision damage from diabetic retinopathy sometimes begins without symptoms. Managing the condition and keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range greatly reduces the chance of developing this medical condition.

Keeping your body healthy and tracking any vision changes through regular vision testing are both important in making sure your biggest fear of becoming blind never has to become reality.


Affordable Care Act and Eye Exams - Smart Vision Labs

Smart Vision Exam: An Act of Affordable Care

You use your sense of vision all the time but when was the last time you used your vision insurance? If you even have it.

Individuals and insurance companies alike tend not to see vision coverage as an essential healthcare cost. This leaves many people forgoing vision insurance, either to save money or because it was just not included in their healthcare plan.

The Statistics

This creates a gap in the amount of people who need vision care and those who actually receive it. In the United States, the number of Americans who need some kind of vision correction is 240 million. But each year, only 114 million eye exams are done.

Accessibility is a concern as well. If you live in a major city, you may not even realize this is a problem right here in America. Each eye doctor, on average, would have to provide care to five thousand people. That comes out to over 13 patients a day, every day, including weekends and holidays.

One of the healthcare-related problems the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seeks to reduce is the number of Americans who are underinsured. These are people who did not previously have insurance, either due to being unable to afford coverage or choosing not to have it. Not having insurance for either reason left those people vulnerable to high healthcare costs. However, the ACA does continue the trend of not considering vision care a health issue and does not require vision insurance or for companies to offer it.

The Service

This is where Smart Vision Labs comes in. They recognize the importance of vision care and seek to provide it in a way that is affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

Using telemedicine, they are able to provide alternative health solutions in the area of vision care. Instead of waiting for an eye doctor, a 5-Minute Vision Exam allows a person (even without vision insurance) to take control of their eyes. You will still receive an accurate prescription for glasses or contacts but you also get the benefits of affordable care and convenient scheduling. Smart Vision Labs believes everyone should be receiving vision care, whether their insurance agrees or not.

And that’s really the entire purpose of this government mandate: to enable everyone, everywhere to have access to medical care. It’s a sense of empowering people to take control of their health. It’s a way to partner with people to create both the motivation and the means to enjoy a state of health.

The Solution

This is also accomplished through the 5-Minute Vision Exam. Patients will actually have “ownership” of the medical data that was collected and analyzed at the exam by accessing a password-protected portal. Any prescriptions will be easily accessible and kept in their account for future reference and for them to be able to chart any changes in their eye health.

While the focus of Smart Vision Labs is eye care and providing convenient and affordable ways to promote that, there is another ‘vision’ to consider. That’s the ‘vision’ of empowering people to have regular eye exams and to take an active part in their eye health. And they do that by giving people a way to act on affordable care.

Related Posts
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew  


Trouble Reading the Fine Print - Get a Smart Vision Exam

Trouble Reading the Fine Print?

For many, losing their vision is believed to be an inevitable and accepted fact of growing older. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Turning into Grandpa who reads the paper with his arms stretched out because he can’t see the fine print or Granny who doesn’t like to drive at night anymore is not something that has to happen.

Let’s see how their day might look if they are the kind of people who just treat losing vision quality as a fact of life.

Can’t Read the Label’s Fine Print?

Grandpa wakes up, starts making a few slices of toast and coffee, and goes to take his morning medication as breakfast gets ready. Oops. He forgot to sort out his medicine the night before. He has trouble reading the tiny print on the bottles saying what and how much to take so he needs to solicit Granny’s help to figure it out. He goes to wake her, even though she wanted to sleep in today. Thankfully, Granny is a sweet old lady and helps him out anyway, although she did swipe a piece of toast.

trouble reading the fine print - you might need reading glasses - Smart Vision LabsOr the Fine Print of a Newspaper?

After breakfast, he sits in his armchair and reads the local newspaper. He remembers this being much more comfortable than it currently is. His near vision isn’t great so he holds the paper straight out in front of him, as far as his arms go.

His eyes seem tired as he continues to read. They are itchy and feel like they want to shut. But he just woke up. He can’t be tired already so he rubs them and continues on for a bit. Eventually, he gives in and takes a quick catnap. He has to drive Granny later so it is good to rest now.

do you have trouble driving at night. It might be time for glasses. Get your vision tested. Smart Vision Labs

Or Drive at Night?

Granny goes to a book club at the town library this evening but she doesn’t like to drive in the dark. She says it’s hard to make things out in the dim light and the glare from car headlights just make it worse. Grandpa might not be able to read the fine print on his medicine labels but he is more comfortable driving so he takes her. He is able to finish reading the newspaper as he waits for Granny’s group to finish their discussion.

They Could Be an Easy Fix

Grandpa and Granny’s struggles might seem (and actually are) totally routine issues older people with vision problems deal with on a daily basis. But they don’t have to be.

Grandpa could read his medication bottles and have an easier time reading the newspaper with a simple pair of reading glasses. Since reading is important to him, it might be worth it to get a prescription pair of readers because they will be customized exactly for his eyes.

The tiredness and itchiness he felt in the morning is the result of lack of tears, not sleep. Dry eye is another easily treated condition with prescription or over-the-counter eye drops.

As for Granny, her inability to see well at night is due to several factors. The pupils can’t expand as well, letting in less light which reduces vision. Driving is a complex task, requiring our eyes to focus on many objects at once, both moving and stationary, a task which becomes more difficult with age. The lens and cornea may also be slightly clouded which also reduces incoming light. Depending on the severity of her problem, she may notice a marked improvement with a pair of prescription glasses with anti-reflective coating.

All of their eye problems have an easy remedy – and it can all start with a vision exam.

Your eyes are a part of your body which are very receptive to preventative care. Many conditions which affect quality of vision are easily remedied with prescription eyeglasses. Getting vision tests at regular intervals keeps you alert to any changes in your vision and allows you to act on them as soon as possible.

Eye Care Tips – Related Posts
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Why It’s Important to Blink Your Eyes
Eat for your Eyesight?