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Preventive Care For Your Peepers

Vision may be the most precious of our senses. Too bad many of us take it for granted.

But we shouldn’t. By age 65, one-third of the U.S. population has some form of sight-impairing disease. And in many cases, serious eye disorders give no warning signs.

Fortunately, many vision problems are preventable.

Get Screened
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that by age 40, all adults should have a screening for eye disease. The results will provide a baseline to help your eye doctor determine any changes over
time. This is especially important because serious eye disease often develops silently.

Your doctor will test for the presence of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy
and cataracts, as well as refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Those who have any symptoms of eye disease, a family history of vision disorders, diabetes or high blood pressure shouldn’t wait until age 40. See an ophthalmologist and discuss how often you need to be re-examined.

Avoid Computer Problems
If you’ve ever had dry, irritated eyes or blurry vision at the end of a long day in front of a computer screen, you’re not alone.

Studies indicate that from 50 to 90 percent of workers who use video display terminals experience some eye discomfort as a result. Reduced performance is another negative consequence.

Experts recommend the following measures:
■ Adjust your monitor to increase contrast and make the text larger.
■ Blink frequently. Those staring at a computer screen blink five times less often than normal, which
causes dry eyes.
■ Use artificial tears to reduce dryness.
■ Adjust your focus every 20 minutes or so. Look at something far away for 10 seconds, then a nearby object, then the distant object. Repeat 10 times.

Help Employees Protect Their Eyes
You can do a great deal to help workers preserve their vision.

■ Make sure employees use protective eyewear while using tools or chemicals.
■ Provide staffers with free fact sheets available from Prevent Blindness America (
and encourage them to have an eye-screening exam.
■ Schedule frequent breaks for computer users. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health notes that eyestrain is reduced when computer workers take four extra five-minute breaks during the workday. Those who do are more productive, despite the extra breaks.
■ Move desk lamps so they don’t reflect on computer screens.
■ Adjust the position of computer monitors. They should be 20 to 26 inches from workers’ eyes.
■ Consider providing employees with computer glasses dispensed by an optometrist. These glasses are designed for focusing on a monitor at arm’s length and can reduce eyestrain. A 2004 University of Alabama study found that computer users who wore glasses with improper correction had significantly reduced performance. The researchers concluded that enhanced productivity from the use of computer glasses more than paid for the cost of the eyewear.

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