How to Keep Your Vision Healthy During the Holidays

Season’s Greetings! If you enjoy holiday movies, you may be familiar with the campy, 80s classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Remember how Cousin Eddy tries to cheer up Clark Griswold after he opens his subscription for the Jelly of the Month club? Always the optimist, Eddy says, “It’s the gift that keeps on giving, Clark, the whole year long!”

A gift from Clark’s boss of twelve jars of jelly certainly cannot compare to the swimming pool he planned to install using the bonus check he was expecting, but Eddy did have a good point. The continuation of a gift is a gift in itself.

You know what else is a gift that keeps on giving? Good visual health! Of all the presents you could receive, among the most precious is healthy vision. As the weather gets colder and your schedule gets busier, do not neglect your eye health this season. There are several ways you can care for your eyes this season so that they can care for you — all year long.

Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam

A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to promote vision health this holiday season. Along with testing your visual acuity, your eye doctor will test for:

  • Refractive errors including nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism
  • Focusing problems like presbyopia, a condition beginning around age 40 that makes it difficult to read small print
  • Eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy
  • Vision problems like strabismus, amblyopia or binocular vision

If you have noticed changes in your vision, talk with your eye doctor about the possibility of having a cataract. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, but the condition is correctible with surgery. Men and women who choose cataract surgery enjoy a higher quality of life and greater independence because of improved vision. They also have a significantly lower risk of hip fractures and falls.

Prevent Dry Eye

Tears are the eye’s natural lubricant, but harsh winds and arid weather can have a drying effect on the eyes. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and use a humidifier in your home and office. When you are at work, write yourself a note to “blink more often” and attach it to your computer screen. Staring at digital screens reduces your blink rate and can cause dryness. You may want to keep some rewetting drops handy for use when your eyes feel irritated and itchy, especially when you plan to be outdoors for longer periods of time.

Take Regular Breaks from Digital Screens

Holiday times often bring more opportunities to spend time on digital devices. We might send more emails, watch more movies and play more games on tablets. This increased screen time can put you at risk for computer vision syndrome (CVS), a condition that can cause headaches, eye strain, and pain in the back and neck. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to avoid CVS: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something at least 20 feet away.

If you take care of your vision, you will see that it really is the gift that keeps on giving — year after year after year. And that is even better than a gift certificate to the Jelly of the Month club!

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