At the Alliance for Health Equity, our vision is to create a thriving, inclusive, and healthy community for all… and especially the Greater Coatesville community. This summer, we have been promoting healthy living with a reminder to wear sunscreen outdoors, eat more fruits and veggies, and prioritize wellness through stress management, exercise and diet, and proper medical care. But did you know that annual check-ups should also include a trip to the eye doctor? That is why August is designated as both National Eye Exam Month and Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! Regular eye exams are an important part of your healthcare routine and will help to protect your vision now and in the years to come.
Caring for Our Eyes as We Age
It is recommended that most adults see an optometrist or ophthalmologist every year, and this is increasingly vital as we get older. For people aged 65 and up, sight-stealing diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration become a common issue. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), “anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk,” including those with a family history, Hispanic/Latino individuals over the age of 60, and African American individuals over the age of 40. The risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD) include smoking, being over the age of 55, and being caucasian.
In addition to regular eye exams that can catch and treat symptoms early, you may lower your risk of AMD by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. While there is no way to prevent glaucoma or reverse any existing damage, early detection and treatment, including eye drops and laser procedures, can help stop the disease from progressing. If you are diabetic, regardless of your age, you are at an increased risk for additional eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Therefore, it is very important for anyone with diabetes to commit to an annual eye exam.
Protecting Children’s Vision and Eye Health
The National Eye Institute notes that Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month “highlights the importance of protecting children’s vision and eye health.” Their website, NEI for kids, features cool videos on how eyes work, healthy vision tips, and fun eye tricks and optical illusions. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends eye exams shortly after birth and again at all routine well-child visits with a pediatrician (for a detailed schedule, click here). Vision tests can also be conducted at school. However, if there is a problem, it is recommended that young children see a specialist, such as a pediatric ophthalmologist. Most teens should get their eyes checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years.
The Alliance for Health Equity (formerly Brandywine Health Foundation) is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission by providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students that address health and economic disparities and social justice. We also build partnership programs and give voice to those often left out of community solution building to improve the overall health of their communities. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.