Baby Health in Winter It’s World Sight Day: Make Eye Health a Priority

Baby Health in Winter

Baby Health in Winter Portrait of two nice trendy cute winsome pretty lovely attractive charming cheerful cheery positive straight-haired girls touching glasses lifestyle isolated over pink pastel background

Some of my warmest memories are moments spent nestled in my grandmother’s loving arms. She was my primary caregiver, and we spent so much time snuggled up together. Even as a very small child, though, I remember closely studying her face, curious about what had happened but knowing not to ask. 

Just before I started school, she took me for an eye exam where I was diagnosed with a very slight lazy eye (amblyopia). Seemingly panicked by this diagnosis, she made me promise to take my exercises very seriously. I’m not going to lie and say that I did them as much as I should, but I got lucky and the condition corrected itself within about a year. We were both relieved.

I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing family members talking about my grandmother’s eye. She’d lost it in a childhood accident and had worn a prosthetic eye ever since. That night, I cried myself to sleep, terrified that, if she ever lost her other eye, she’d never see me again. At that very young age, I recognized the preciousness of having good eyesight and I’ve tried to never take that for granted. 

What Is World Sight Day?

This year, World Sight Day falls on October 10, 2019. Use this as the perfect opportunity to make eye health a priority for you and your loved ones. Have you and your family had an eye exam in the last two years? If not, schedule your appointment right now. 

Vision impairment can affect any of us at any time, but the most vulnerable populations are young children, the elderly and those with diabetes. Here are some sobering facts from around the world:

  • 36 million people are blind.
  • 217 million people live with moderate or severe distance vision impairment.
  • 1 billion people have near-vision impairment.
  • 55% of moderately or severely vision impaired people are women.
  • The prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.37% in 2015.

Here in North America, we’re fortunate to have access to good eye care. Many of us unknowingly drive past an optical clinic every day while commuting or out running errands. We can even order eyeglasses and contact lenses over the internet. Yet, we often take for granted how lucky we are. 

Many who are impacted by visual impairment have barriers to receiving eye exams. There may be a lack of qualified professionals in their area or they may lack the financial resources to pay for services. 

This year, the call to action on World Sight Day is Vision First! Get involved by helping raise awareness, whether it’s encouraging your workplace to offer free eye screenings or sharing one of these social media messages from The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. 

How Can You Protect Your Eyes?

No matter where we are in our lifespan, it’s important to do the same basic things to protect our eyes. Whether as a new baby or an aging grandparent, we should never take our eyesight for granted. According to Harvard Health Publishing, here are six ways to improve and protect our vision:

  1. Get regular eye exams — every two years before age 70 and yearly after that.
  2. Control underlying conditions — chronic health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can hurt your vision. 
  3. Eat a healthy diet — foods rich in antioxidants may cut the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  4. Stop smoking — Aside from genetics, smoking is the top risk factor for AMD and cataract progression.
  5. Use eye drops — preservative-free artificial tears can make vision less blurry for those with dry eyes. 
  6. Use eye protection — when outdoors, wear sunglasses that filter ultraviolet (UV) rays, as prolonged exposure is associated with cataract formation and cancer on the eyelids. Additionally, wearing safety glasses at home or at work, when needed, can protect against injury. 

While we can’t prevent every possible scenario, being proactive about eye health can make a big difference. 

Smith Optics

Having grown up in Montreal, Canada, I spent a lot of my childhood skiing in the winter and out on the water in the summer. I’d always have sunglasses with me to protect my eyes — until I started needing my prescription glasses for everything. My eye shape makes it hard for me to wear contact lenses for extended periods of time, so over the years, it became impossible for me to wear shades because I always have on prescription glasses.

My partner (and the three children we share) is fair-haired and absolutely must wear sunglasses, even for driving. He’s a runner, so we make sure we invest in the best eye protection available. There are a few brands we’ve used over the years, but one that we’ve recently tried truly stands out. 

Determined to get in a few more runs on the slopes after everyone else called it a day, self-described ski bum Dr. Bob Smith (an orthodontist) designed the very first sealed thermal lenses and breathable vent foam goggles back in 1965. More than 50 years later, Smith Optics continues to be one of the most cutting-edge sunglass brands on the market. 

After years of innovation, Smith recently introduced “the most scientifically advanced polarized lens technology, ChromaPop, while simultaneously creating a dramatically new approach to ventilation and protection in snow and bike helmets through the use of Aerocore technology.” For an in-depth discussion of what makes ChromaPop so unique, read this review.

Today, in addition to sunglasses, Smith carries helmets and goggles, including the new 4D MAG goggle featuring BirdsEye Vision, a proprietary new lens shape that extends and curves below the sightline. Wearers can guard their eyes against damage while enjoying a 25% increase in overall field of view, reduced peripheral distraction and ChromaPop lenses. 

Smith also sells prescription glasses. That’s right — people like me can have their prescription added to the lenses of Smith’s impressive frames. Now, I can enjoy my day at a theme park or climbing a mountain without putting my eyes at risk. 

AmblyoPlay

As previously mentioned, I was diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye) at a young age. Fortunately, with very little intervention, it was corrected. My oldest daughter, however, was not as lucky. Not only did she have a more involved case, but she was resistant to following the optometrist’s instructions. We fought about it daily for more than a year, and today as an adult, she wishes she had been more vigilant.

“In approximately four percent of children, strabismus (crossed or turned eye) will develop,” says Dr. Mary Lou French. “Amblyopia will develop in three percent, which combined means that of the 4.02 million children born in 2004, as many as 100,000 are at risk for serious eye and vision problems.”

Seeing the need, AmblyoPlay, has come up with a home-based vision therapy solution for children and adults with amblyopia, mild strabismus or convergence insufficiency (eyes unable to focus together). The software-based vision therapy solution recently launched in the U.S. market.

Traditional vision therapy exercises used to treat amblyopia are repetitive and time-consuming,  which can be boring, especially for young children. The Amblyoplay program, which is available on iPads and Android tablets, as well as Windows and Mac computers, is comprised of two 15-minute sessions per day using an interactive gaming software to stimulate eye muscles. 

While not intended to replace the expertise provided by an eye care specialist, Amblyoplay was developed by Smart Optometry as an additional tool we can use to protect and improve eye health.

For World Sight Day, take a few moments to review your strategy. If it’s been more than two years or if there are any concerns, make an appoi

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