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eye health

  • What is Behavioral Optometry?

    How does your visual performance shape up against the demands placed on your visual system?

    • At work?
    • At home?
    • At school?
    • At play?

    You may not be aware of it, but your visual system brings you much information about your world. When you look at something, you don't just "see" with your eyes; you inspect, discriminate, identify and interpret ‐ all as a part of your visual system.

    Behavioral optometry is an expanded area of optometric practice. When you visit your behavioral optometrist, you may notice a difference in your examination. You will find that you are tested for specific visual skills. You may find that many of your questions about vision are answered. And you will receive the clinical guidance you need to develop the skills that provide for an efficient visual system.

    Why Behavioral Optometry?

    Our ancestors had hunter's eyes for survival in the wilderness; their vision was designed for spotting game and enemies at a distance.

    In the last 100 years we have been forced to deal with sustained, near visual tasks and the resulting stress on the visual system has produced many symptoms and problems.

    If you experience headaches, blurred vision, tired, itchy or watery eyes or other vision linked problems, you may already know how uncomfortable sustained visual stress can feel. Your discomfort may be related to the heavy vision load of working at near distances.

    If you are a student, you may read almost three times the number of textbooks your grandparents did. If you are employed in an office, you probably use your visual system for hours of close‐up work. If you work with computers, you may

    spend much of your day looking at a computer screen. These tasks can all contribute to visual stress.

    Even if you have "20/20 eyesight," you may have difficulty working at close tasks. The term "20/20" means you can see well at distances of 20 feet or more, it does not usually refer to how well you see at 12‐16 inches, the distance at which you do most of your close work.

    There is a solution.

    Your behavioral optometrist has studied the effects of stress on vision. Through the use of carefully selected stress‐relieving and preventive lenses and visual training, you can enjoy relief from even the most stressful close‐up visual conditions.

    More About Behavioral Optometrists

    • Your behavioral optometrist takes a holistic approach to vision care. You are treated as a whole person and your visual problem as a part of the whole system. Your behavioral optometrist works with you and your children, rather than doing something to you.
    • You and your children will receive help in developing the important visual skills you may need to reach academic and professional goals.
    • Even the visual achievement of successful learners and earners can be enhanced through behavioral optometric care.

    Who Needs a Behavioral Optometrist?

    Behavioral vision care is useful to virtually all patients. However, the following individuals will especially benefit:

    • Children of all ages, but especially children just starting school.
    • Children who are having trouble with reading or learning.
    • Children who seem to be uncoordinated in visually demanding sports.
    • Children who are considered "behavior problems"
    • Children who are reading "below their potential."
    • Anyone who participates in athletics and wants improved performance.
    • Anyone who works at a computer.
    • Anyone who has a visually demanding job.
    • Anyone who suffers from burning, itchy eyes, eyestrain or visual fatigue (with no medical eye problem).

    See your family optometrist annually.

    More Good News... If your behavioral optometrist prescribes visual training (also called vision therapy) for you, and even if your medical insurance does not cover eyeglass prescriptions, your major medical may cover visual training.

    Visual training often falls under the category of physical therapy. It usually involves a series of visits during which you perform specific activities to remediate your vision problem under the close supervision of a professional.

    The office staff can help you determine if your policy covers visual training and with their help, you can submit the proper claim and receive entitled benefits.

    What Is a Behavioral Optometrist?

    Behavioral optometrists spend years in post‐doctoral education to master the complex visual programs prescribed to prevent or to normalize ‐visual problems and enhance visual performance. Behavioral optometry is an umbrella term that also includes developmental and functional optometric practices. Not all optometrists practice behavioral optometry. To find one who does, call or write Optometric Extension Program Foundation Vision Extension. If you do not now visit a behavioral optometrist, call or write the OEP Foundation for a referral list in your area.

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.

    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3‐L

    Santa Ana, CA 92705‐5510

    (949) 250‐8070

    Pamphlet Copyright © 1984, OEP Foundation, Inc. ‐ A nonprofit foundation for education and research in Vision

    Permission to reprint the contents of this brochure granted to VISUAL EDGE, INC ® ‐ 05/01/09 by: the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.

  • Protect Your Eyes From Macular Degeneration. There’s An APP For That.

    We all know that there is an “app” for everything. There are apps for finding the cheapest gas within a certain radius. You can buy anything: clothes, flowers, software, movie tickets and even your next meal. You can play games or plan trips and you can social network your way to from lowly shepherd to full-fledged cowboy, even if it’s only for your own private Farmland. Now, there will be an app for tracking your health too – myVisionTrack allows users to quickly and easily monitor their eye health.

    The University of Texas Southwestern has developed and is testing an application for the iPhone that monitors vision using a self-explanatory, simple vision test. myVisionTrack displays three circles: two perfect and one slightly disfigured. Users distinguish and touch the odd-shaped circle and are then presented with another set. This time, the disfigurement is less apparent. The process repeats until the user can no longer discern which circle is different. The application then saves the score, rendering cumbersome manual recording unnecessary. When score inconsistencies are detected, the app alerts the user to visit the doctor.

    myVisionTrack was developed by ophthalmologists for eye patients with Diabetic Retinopathy or Macular Degeneration but can also be used to track vision in healthy eyes. The idea is, if a patient can detect a vision change soon enough, steps can be taken immediately to avoid unnecessary vision loss or eye damage. Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration are the leading causes of blindness in adults and because the diseases progress quickly, they require constant monitoring, which means time-consuming and expensive doctors visits. With this simple application, patients can administer self-checkups in only 90 seconds.

    With the development of health tracking technology, practicing good health will only become easier and more efficient. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time until comprehensive healthcare is easily accessible as well.

  • Annual Eye Checkups

    Did you know that you are supposed to get an eye exam every year after starting at age 20? After your teens, your eyes are fully developed and you need annual eye checkups to ensure they stay at the top of their game. This is especially important after you turn 40 and as age-related vision loss occurs more rapidly. Yearly exams will not only detect problems or disorders already in existence, but can also help prevent future problems and prescribe corrective treatment. Oftentimes, once symptoms occur, irreversible damage has already been done.

    According to a recent survey, sight is the sense that an overwhelming majority of Americans (80 percent) fear losing the most. However, 86 percent of those Americans that already have vision problems or eye disease do not actively seek routine eye exams. This is partly due to the fact that eye exams are not covered by Medicare and/or many health insurance plans. However, advocates, such as Lighthouse International, are organizing demonstrations to try to get that changed; the main argument being that eye health problems wind up being more costly than people think: 16% of broken hips are due to vision issues.

    Eye exams are especially important for those patients considered “at-risk,” including those with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease. In addition to early detection and prevention, regular eye exams can also lead to early diagnoses of more serious diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis or brain tumors.

    So add to your list of New Year’s Resolutions to take care of your eye health this year. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month as well, so schedule an appointment with your optician today and save yourself from vision loss and disease later.

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