Does Where You Live Determine Whether You'll Go Blind?

CDC Report Pinpoints Counties With Most Severe Vision Loss

Imagine choosing where you’d like to live.  Many of us do this, especially at the beginning of our careers or marriages.  What criteria do you use to decide?  Population?  Public amenities?  Cost of living?  While these are all good things to consider, more people are choosing where they want to live based on the overall health of communities.  And now, the CDC has released a report showing the prevalence of severe vision loss by county across the U.S.  It’s not good news for the South.

Old Eyes

Do You Live in a Vision Challenged County?

Here’s an excerpt from the report: “The findings indicate a significant correlation between severe vision loss and poverty for U.S. counties. The highest prevalence of severe vision loss and poverty were found in the southern states.”  Note that whether the link between blindness and poverty is causative, and in which direction, is unclear.  Check out the map below to see the distribution of severe vision loss in the U.S. by county, by percentage:

Map of Vision Loss

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6419a2.htm

Don’t Panic Just Yet

I happen to live in the South, and so do a lot of my readers.  Tennessee, in fact, and I enjoy it very much.  So why shouldn’t a report like this cause me to pick up and move to the Northeast?  It’s simple.  I practice living the visual lifestyle, and one of the foundational pillars of that lifestyle is awareness.  Case in point: according to the report, lack of eye health knowledge is a contributing factor to severe vision loss.

When reading the CDC report, I noticed their conclusion contains a lot of items that are common sense, yet not necessarily common knowledge.  In fact, they conclude that lack of knowledge about eye care and eye health contributes to the prevalence of vision loss in the most challenged (and all) areas.  To help, here are the basics they suggest:

  • healthy eating
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • not smoking
  • understanding your family’s eye health history
  • using proper eye safety practices
  • getting regular eye examinations

So if you live in the South, does that mean you have a greater risk of losing your vision?  Not necessarily.  But you may have to work a bit harder to overcome a prevalent culture of poor health and self care.  And watch out if you don’t live in a vision challenged area.  It doesn’t mean you can ignore basic eye and body health simply because you live in an area where vision loss isn’t as prominent.

Remember a key contributing factor to vision loss is lack of knowledge, so no matter where you live, arm yourself with education.  Get a physical and schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor you trust.  Isn’t your vision worth it?

And, don’t forget to stay tuned for regular posts.  Living the visual lifestyle is the primary way to ensure you are doing everything you can to preserve your eye health and maintain clear, comfortable vision for a lifetime.

Question: Where do you live?  Is there a culture of poor health that you must overcome, or does your community support healthy living?  Comment here or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

Are You Losing by Not Living the Visual Lifestyle?

Uncomfortable Eyes Affect Your Productivity

Admit it.  You’ve had to stop working and take a break because your eyes bothered you so much you couldn’t continue.  If this is a regular occurrence for you, have you ever thought of how much time and production you’re losing?  Don’t misunderstand my point, though.  I believe short breaks help keep me focused and more productive.  But that has more to do with my mind and work rhythms than my eyes.  In fact, my eyes never reduce my productivity.  Wouldn’t you like to say that about your work day?

Lost Production

How Often Do You Stop Work to Rest Your Eyes?

When and Where Do You Need Your Best Vision?

I regularly ask patients where they would like their clearest, most comfortable vision.  I once had a patient answer, “Where I make my money!”  We had a nice laugh at this, but she had a good point: if she wasn’t visually comfortable doing her work, she would be less productive.  She was wise; she left with personalized eyewear with lenses focused and treated for sewing.  But I often hear “I don’t have time for an eye exam, I’m too busy.”  In reality though, you can’t afford not to get an eye exam and get these problems resolved.

According to research done by Transitions Optical, more than half (53%) of workers polled in 2013 have to take breaks to rest their eyes.  Alarmingly, the number was only 29% as recently as 2011.  As our society and work lives become more digital, our eyes are feeling the burn.  Sometimes literally.

Additional findings show nearly half of respondents experience tired eyes, the top visual complaint.  Other complaints include:

  • Light reflected from a computer
  • Bright light
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Light reflected from a hand held device
  • Outdoor light

You can see the percentages of these complaints in the chart below.  What the chart doesn’t show is that 79% of people surveyed experience at least one of these symptoms at work.  That’s a huge majority.  Worse, a University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry study showed that even a minimally incorrect prescription can reduce productivity by 9% and accuracy by 38%.

Source: Transitions Optical

Source: Transitions Optical

Take Charge of Your Production

If you have found your productivity lagging while you work, consider having a comprehensive eye exam.  Every complaint listed in the chart above can be resolved, whether by medicated eye drops, lifestyle changes, or personalized lenses that do the work for your eyes.  Many times, a simple solution can make a dramatic difference.  Don’t wait.  Stack the odds in your favor and resolve the visual problems that are robbing your attention and productivity.  You may be pleasantly surprised when you do.

Question: Which of the visual problems above do you experience the most?  How valuable would a simple solution to that problem be to you?  Please comment here or on any of our social media channels.

The Hubble Space Telescope Is Celebrating Its Silver Anniversary

Today Marks 25 Years Since Hubble’s First Image

What were you doing 25 years ago today?  If the Hubble Space Telescope could talk, it would say it was basking in the global spotlight after having released its first image.  It would be the first of 25 years of visually stunning and scientifically priceless images that Hubble would give us.  One of the most well known is the Pillars of Creation, seen in the photo below:

Eagle Nebula: 2014 Hubble WFC3/UVIS Image of M16
Source: Hubblesite.org

Hubble Keeps Delivering

According to Hubble25th.org, the telescope has had a major impact on every area of astronomy.  It has expanded our knowledge base about:

  • Our solar system
  • Our planets
  • Other planets
  • The Milky Way Galaxy
  • Other galaxies
  • The universe as a whole

The 25th anniversary image and video released last month is of Westerlund 2, a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars.  It’s featured in the next photo.  Better yet, see the video below for an amazing trip through this area of outer space.

Hubble 25th Anniversary Image: Westerlund 2
Source: Hubblesite.org

It’s Hard Not to Appreciate Hubble

Like much of the world, I have been amazed by Hubble and what it has offered us over the years.  I remember the launch, and also the first image that was released.  Everything Hubble gives us squares with the visual lifestyle, even if we’re not all NASA astronauts.  I often point out that awareness is one of the key concepts to remember when living the visual lifestyle.  Aspects of awareness include not only gratitude and appreciation, but also curiosity and celebration.  This is true no matter the subject.  And the 25th anniversary of Hubble’s first image is worth both appreciating and celebrating.

Why not practice appreciation and spend some time enjoying the amazing images Hubble has given us?  Start with this video:

And after you’re done here, view the image gallery at Hubble25th.org.  You’ll be glad you did.

Question: The “Pillars of Creation” image is arguably Hubble’s most famous.  Is it your favorite, or do you have another?  Comment here or on our social media pages.