Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all the privileges and blessings we have. It is a time to celebrate family and gather with our extended family members and friends. It is an opportunity to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. But how often are we conscious of how privileged we are to be healthy? We should give thanks daily, and not just once a year, for the ability to see. Of all our senses, most of us probably value our sight the most. After all, what would Thanksgiving be without the ability to see the faces of those we love?
We should never take clear vision for granted, and the way to keep seeing clearly is to schedule regular eye exams. At least 75 percent of disease-related vision loss could be prevented with proper treatment, so that is reason enough to stay up-to-date with vision screenings. Many eye disorders such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are preventable and treatable but they can cause blindness if they go undiagnosed. What many people do not understand is that the progression of degenerative eye disease is so gradual that you may not notice any effects for quite some time. By the time you notice that your vision is not as clear, you may have already lost some of your sight and that damage is irreversible.
Besides getting eye examinations, there are some precautions that you can take every day to prolong your vision. Sunglasses will help prevent exposure to UV rays that can cause eye damage and cataracts. If you are a smoker, get help to quit smoking. Cigarettes can increase your risk for degenerative eye disease as well as cancer.
This Thanksgiving, be thankful for the gift of sight by being proactive about your vision. Do your part by protecting your eyes in the sun, and put aside the cigarettes. Get your eyes examined at least every two years and let your eye doctor know if you have any vision changes. And take time to enjoy the sights around you this holiday. Put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving this year by caring for your vision!