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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Why Vision Is the Most Important Sense - Learn why at Smart Vision Labs

Why Vision Is the Most Important Sense Organ

Out of all the five senses, your vision seems the most important. Humans are fairly unique in their reliance on sight as the dominant sense and this is reflected in how complicated our eyes are relative to other creatures.

Many animals gain most of their information about the environment through their sense of smell. Your dog’s nose tells him much more about his world and who is in it than his eyes (which can actually see some color). In contrast, you can’t smell all the wildlife that visited your yard but you could see them in vivid color.

How the Eye ‘Sees’

Why are human eyes so much more capable? Basically, it is because they have more components which collect information.

When you see something, like your pet dog, your eyes don’t actually see him, your brain does. At the start of what will become your vision, light enters your eyes. Your pupil, the black center of your eye, and the iris, the colored ring around it, work together to widen or constrict the pupils so the appropriate amount of light enters the eye.

The incoming light travels through two layers: the cornea and the lens. The cornea at the front of your eye, and the lens, located right behind your pupil, work in tandem to focus the light ray onto a specific spot at the back of your eye, on the retina.

At the retina is where the raw sight data your eyes collected from light begins to be translated into useful visual information. The light focused on the retina triggers photoreceptors which are used to create visual cues. The retina contains two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. There are about 120 million rods and up to 7 million cones. Rods are more sensitive than cones but cannot detect color, which the cones can.

Humans have 3 types of cones which perceive the presence of red, green, and blue. These combine in different levels to create the full range of color we see. In case you’re wondering, your dog only has 2 of these, yellow and blue, which means his vision is closer to a human with red-green colorblindness than just black and white.

Now that information about the item and its color are collected, the rest of the work is left to the brain. This new data is sent along the optic nerve to the brain, which is what tells us what we are looking at. Along with what we are seeing, the brain sends information about the context: what does looking at this mean, is it dangerous, or other related memories.

Also your eyes and brain are constantly doing all of this. All in a tiny fraction of a second.

The Eye as a Sense Organ

The way sight works is why it is one of the five senses. The eyes are the physical portal through which data from your environment is collected and sent to your brain for processing. The brain plays its part by converting the light that went into your eyes into usable information – how far away, how bright, what color.

So if you were to look at your dog, you would see that, yes, it is a dog but also what breed he is and that he is your pet and would probably like his ears scratched.

Humans are built to collect information with their eyes and even reduced vision quality creates a negative effect. A regular vision test is a small investment for something that has such a huge impact on our lives.

Our eyes aren’t just performing a task, they are the portal through which our brain can tell us about our world, learn new things, and make wonderful memories. All of which are reasons why vision is such an important thing to take care of.

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Bette Davis Eyes

Sometimes we remember people because of their eyes; Bette Davis is one of those people.

Kim Carnes even sang about her famous eyes. (I bet you can hear that song in your head at the moment.) But what’s the deal with these eyes?

Those ‘Bette Davis eyes’ could have been indicative of a medical condition known as Graves’ disease, which is a serious thyroid and immunological disorder. This disorder causes an inflammatory response in the muscles around the eyes which makes them swell. Although the eyes are held in place by the orbits (the sockets in the skull), the swelling of the muscles and surrounding tissues push the eyes forward. In severe cases of Graves’s disease, the eyes are protruding and have limited movement.

The Eyes Tell a Story

Bette Davis’s eyes told a story. Whether it was about her possibly having Graves’ disease or whether her eyes highlighted her sassiness, success, or sexiness, there is a story to be told if we listen. Certain eye-related medical conditions can be diagnosed (often in an early stage) with regular vision exams.

Some health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure can cause vision problems. This is because the capillaries and blood vessels of the eyes are affected. Both of these medical conditions can be treated and many patients report an improvement in their vision afterward.

Famous People are Just like Us

Okay, maybe our photos aren’t on the covers of magazines or we are not incredibly rich, but when it comes to eye health, we are all on the same page. Regular vision exams are important for everyone because they can detect problems and offer solutions.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t look you directly in the eye? He was believed to have a condition known as ‘lazy eye.’ In his case, he had a displaced eye muscle, possibly because he was kicked in the head by a horse as a child.

‘Lazy eye’ is still a medical condition today and generally it’s diagnosed in children under 7. It’s caused when one eye doesn’t develop as it should, shifting the focus of vision to the other eye while the ‘lazy eye’ is almost ignored. The good news is that there are ways to successfully treat this.

Ray Charles, known for his exceptional musical talent, was born was congenital glaucoma. Sadly, this was not diagnosed and resulted in blindness by the time he was seven years old.

Today, there are glaucoma tests that are done quickly and painlessly. People over the age of 40 should be checked for this medical condition at least every one to two years. Glaucoma develops because of increased fluid pressure in the eyes. Often, there are no early symptoms of this disease. If left untreated, blindness could result.

Look on the Bright Side

Our eyes not only allow us to see and interact with the world around us; they can also reveal medical conditions that need to be addressed. Through regularly scheduled vision exams, you can get an early diagnosis on certain problems and start to receive treatment.

Even if you don’t have famous eyes like Bette Davis, make sure they are seen at vision exams. If you need corrective glasses, have your eye doctor ‘autograph’ a prescription for you. And if you plan on becoming famous, be sure to get a pair of prescription sunglasses in case you need to hide out from your fans for a while.

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questions about eye health - Smart Vision Labs

Eye Q&A: Things to Ask, Things to Know

Do you have any Eye Q? (This is not to be confused with IQ which I am sure you have in abundance.)

Eye Q refers to any questions about eye health. We all wonder and even worry about certain things pertaining to your eyes. This is a quick glance at some of the more common questions (and answers) people have about their eye health.

Knowledge is power and the more you know about your eyes, the better position you will be in to keep them healthy.

Q: How often should I have my vision checked?
A: If you are already wearing corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses, the American Optometric Association recommends a vision exam every year. If your vision is not currently being corrected by prescriptive eyewear, and if you are between 18 and 60, an exam every two years is recommended.

Having your vision checked regularly is the number one thing you can do to maintain eye health.

Q: Which is better—eyeglasses or contact lenses?
A: Both have advantages and disadvantages. Glasses don’t need a lot of maintenance and cleaning; they don’t touch your eyes so there is less chance of infection; they are often cheaper. On the con side, they are very visible and you may not like how they look especially if you need to wear thicker lenses because of a strong prescription.

Contact lenses can usually correct your vision better since they are directly on your eye, providing a wider field of view with less obstruction. They are also better for playing sports, are not affected by weather, and can even change your eye color if you desire.

Although the choice of wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses is strictly up to you and your lifestyle, it all starts with a vision exam to determine if you need a prescription.

Q: Why is my vision getting worse?
A: Did you worry the last time your prescription needed to change? Did you wonder if perhaps your eyesight is failing? Most people feel disappointed or discouraged if they need a stronger prescription but knowing possible reasons why their vision needs extra correction may give them peace of mind.

If you suffer from dry eyes, your vision can become blurrier. This condition is a result of low tear production and many people do not even realize they have this until they get their vision checked. On the positive side, using a product for artificial tears (which your eye doctor might prescribe) can improve dry eyes and possibly improve your vision.

Certain diseases like diabetes or the presence of cataracts can diminish the quality of your vision. By having regular vision exams, these conditions can be diagnosed and treated, often when they are still in an early stage.

Q: What can I do to keep my eyes healthy?
A: The number one way to maintain eye health is to have regular vision exams. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in a while, you may be happily surprised to see how technology has improved the convenience of these exams. You can stop in at a participating provider for a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam. If you are concerned about affordability, and if you have a FSA or HSA, you may be able to use the money from these accounts for the exam or corrective eyewear.

So when you are thinking about any Eye Qs you have, perhaps the best one may be: Am I due for a vision exam? If you haven’t had one in a year, the answer is yes.