Why Eye Exams are Important
Early Detection Saves Sight
Why do eye exams save sight? Because certain eye problems can steal your sight without you even knowing it.
Both adults and children should have eyes examined at least once a year. Eye exams are vital to a child’s normal vision development and, for adults, a matter of maintaining healthy vision and avoiding eye diseases while aging.
Eye Exams aren’t only to see if you need eyeglasses or contact lenses
First and foremost, your eye care professional or doctor is concerned about eye diseases or disorders that appear out of the ordinary and that might lead to impaired vision or loss. Typically, eye doctors look for abnormalities in the retina and blood vessels for early signs of eye disease. Your eyes may also reveal the onset of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and / or problems with your circulatory system or heart.
Eye diseases such as glaucoma and those related to diabetes can result in permanent vision loss if left undetected in early development—surely a good enough reason for a once-a-year eye doctor visit.
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Healthy Vision and Nutrition
You are what you eat…you’ve heard that before. Same with eyesight. Deprive your eyes of basic nutrition and you risk impairing your vision in much the same way your body becomes weak if you don’t eat. Poor nutrition can weaken your eye’s natural ability to fend off disease and to focus correctly.
Over the years nutritionists have found that certain vitamins and minerals benefit good vision. You may have heard carrots are good for eyesight. That’s because carrots contain large amounts of vitamin A, a vitamin antioxidant that seems to preserve retinal tissue.
Vitamin C, abundant in citrus fruits and vegetables such as squash, broccoli and tomatoes (tomatoes are also considered a fruit) are good for eyesight too. Not only does vitamin C promote healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, this powerful antioxidant nutrient fortifies capillaries in the retina, suggesting that vitamin C may play a role in reducing the chance of cataract and / or vision loss resulting from macular degeneration.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, are stored in the eye's lens and retina and act as antioxidants much like vitamin A in protecting eyes from disease and the deterioration of eyesight.
What about Fish Oil?
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), which have been linked to healthy vision development in infants and children and to the healthy maintenance of the retina as we age. EFAs also help eyes to drain properly and regulate intraocular pressure. Inadequate EFAs in the diet have been linked to dry eye syndrome in women and macular degeneration in seniors.
The best way to get fish oil is to eat cold, deep water fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut and cod. The colder and deeper the water, the less chance fish will be toxic as a result of water pollution, mercury and PCBs.
If you don’t eat fish, then fish oil supplements provide a good substitute. High grade fish oil supplements are electronically distilled and list on the label the origin of the fish from which the fish oil is extracted.
Alternate sources of essential fatty acids include peanuts, flaxseed and olive oil among others.
Can good nutrition reverse the aging process?
Good nutrition may help slow the loss of vision in the aging process –but won’t stop it. Good nutrition will, however, allow you to maintain healthy vision for a greater number of years and possibly avoid devastating eye diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies. Talk to your eye care professional to learn more about the impact eating right has on seeing right.
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Does my insurance cover eye exams?
Insurance policies vary to the extent they provide vision coverage. Understanding your vision rider requires a few minutes of reading your policy, followed by a Q&A with your insurance carrier to help you fully understand your vision benefit. Then and only then should you consult your eye care professional for comments regarding your vision coverage.
Co-pays on vision insurance benefits are typically higher than for medical or dental, depending on your carrier and the extent of your coverage. Most vision insurance allows for an eye exam at least once a year. Most policies that cover eyeglasses cover contact lenses too.
Unfortunately, most people don’t read their insurance policies in their entirety for fear they won’t understand what they read. This is a big mistake for two reasons:
You may be entitled to certain insurance benefits, which unless you read your policy and ask questions of your carrier, you may miss out on.
By relying on your eye doctor’s staff to explain your vision benefits to you, you may unintentionally be charged too high a co-pay; think that your contact lenses are not insured or simply pay out of pocket for a vision product or service that is otherwise covered by vision insurance.
How much does vision insurance cost?
The cost of vision benefits varies. Some policies provide a complete vision benefits package while others offer vision discounts at participating eye care professionals. Annual membership in vision plans can run from $200 yearly for a single, up to $500 and more for families.
Comparison shopping is the best way to ensure getting the most vision benefits for your dollar. Search the internet using search terms such as “vision insurance” “vision policies” “vision insurance plans“ “eye vision insurance” “vision plans” “eye care insurance” or “vision services.”
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