“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.
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.
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by Joyce Handzo
What are Sports Vision Skills?
If you think that playing sports only involves running, throwing, tackling, and jumping, then you are missing other key skills every athlete must develop.
Sports vision skills are an integral part of every game. The eyes gather over 60% of information that is sent to the muscular and skeletal systems. Specific visual abilities affect sports performance because they directly impact motor skills. The great news is that just like physical exercise strengthens the body, visual skills can be improved with training.
Keep Your Eyes on the Ball (Maybe Not)
Every coach has said that and every player has tried to do it but focusing on a fast-moving object places a great demand on vision. A baseball hit into right field might seem like a blur but players can improve this visual ability by understanding how focusing works in a sports situation.
Humans can only focus both eyes on an object within a relatively small space. To get a look at what this means, try the Thumb Rule. Hold your arm straight out with your thumb pointing vertically. The width of your thumb in this position gives you an idea of the size of your visual focus. Now, before you get discouraged and think you will never be able to track a tennis ball or softball that is lobbed your way, be prepared to learn a focusing trick.
While it is difficult for both eyes to focus on a ball that is moving, you can concentrate your vision peripherally. Motion is more easily detected in your peripheral vision field. And the quicker you react to the motion in sports, the better able you will be able to play.
So, instead of intensely focusing on the ball, look to the midpoint. In basketball, for instance, this can mean looking at the area between the ball and the person you are defending. The movement of either the ball or the other player will be detected more quickly and you will be in a better place visually to make the right move.
What’s Your Eye D?
Of course, you all have ID, but Eye D refers to your dominant eye. If you know which eye it is, you can improve the way you play certain sports. That’s because the dominant eye processes and sends information to the brain just a little bit faster and more accurately than the other eye.
Let’s take a quick test. Extend both arms straight out from your body, at about shoulder height. With your thumbs and index fingers, form a small triangle. Pick an object in the distance and center it in the triangle. Close one eye at a time and look at the object. The eye that sees the object centered in the triangle is your dominant eye.
Now, take this information to the playing field. If you are a golfer, line up your next shot so that your dominant eye has a clear view of the ball and the hole. Tilt your head to give that eye an unobstructed look at the path the ball needs to travel.
While a physically fit body is important in sports, remember the role of your eyes. Without their ability to focus and process visual information, athletes would literally be at a loss. Get regular vision exams to keep your eyes at their best. And remember, it’s not only about winning; it’s also about being a better and healthier you.
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Should You Get Glasses or Contact Lenses?
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?
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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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.
In the fall of 2015, Dr. Huy Tran and Maya Major of Smart Vision Labs screened 316 students over two days at Tuckahoe Commons Schools in Southampton, Long Island. The students participating in the school vision screening (most who had not gone to the eye doctor in the past year) ranged from ages 4 to 13, grades Pre-K to 8th. The first day was a vision screening of all students in the school, and students who saw under 20/30 for visual acuity were brought back the second day for vision exams with Dr. Tran.
by Jessie Tang