By Dr. Jerson Desiderio, OD
Every May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partners with the National Eye Institute to encourage all Americans to make vision a health priority and at the same time raise awareness about the necessity of regular eyecare.
While older adults tend to have more vision problems, many children and teens also struggle with their vision needs. A survey conducted by Ipsos and the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition found that 44 percent of children in the United States are spending more than four hours every day on their electronic devices. That is double the rate that existed before the pandemic lockdown. This statistic coincides with the global rise in myopia (nearsightedness) diagnoses.
A 2020 study published by the American Journal of Ophthalmology, linked increased digital screen time and limited outdoor activities to the onset and progression of myopia. This could eventually increase the risk for vision impairment from conditions like retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
Fortunately, there are some ways to protect you and your family’s vision:
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam for you and your family every year. A comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation can help your vision care provider determine your prescription as well as check for common eye diseases and issues.
- Use sunglasses outdoor to prevent sun damage. The right pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from damaging UV rays, which can increase chances for cataracts or macular degeneration. Choose glasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
- Take breaks from computer and phone screens. Symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, neck/back pain, burning or stinging eyes, and difficulty focusing for extended periods of time. Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break from the screen every 20 minutes (set a timer if you need to); look at least 20 feet away from the screen for at least 20 seconds.
- Eat healthy foods, like leafy greens, fish and citrus fruits. These kinds of foods are good for overall eye health. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E may help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Stop smoking. Cigarettes increase the risk for developing cataracts or macular degeneration. It can also potentially damage the eye’s optic nerve.
If you have concerns about any vision issues you or your child may be experiencing, call (832) 548-5000 to schedule a visit with a Legacy Community Health vision professional.