4 Ways You Don’t Know You’re Ruining Your Eyes

Which of These Describes You most?

I often hear patients say, “I only have one set of eyes, doc, so I want to take care of them.” Sadly, people who are living a poor visual lifestyle say it too.  Could that be you?

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My wife, Dr. Liz, recently saw a patient who gets dangerous eye infections.  When she explained what to do, the patient refused.  Worse, when she explained what not to do, the patient replied, “Well doc, sometimes I just have to.”

So the patient ignored her doctor’s advice, and said she would keep doing what was harming her eyes and making her infections worse.  Surprising?  Yes, but not unusual.

What About You?

You may not be refusing your doctor’s advice or carelessly doing things that could be harmful to your eyes.

Or are you?

I’ve seen thousands of patients in over two decades of eye care.  Many of them think they’re doing fine when they’re not caring for their eyes well at all.

Before you think that isn’t you, check out this list.  Here are four ways you may be harming your eyes without knowing it:

You’re not protecting them.  I am astonished at how few people protect their eyes.  Fear of blindness is one of our top health fears, yet there are ways to prevent vision loss.  Here are some great ways to protect your eyes:

  • Sunwear: The sun’s damaging UV rays can cause cataracts and macular degeneration.  Make sure you use sunwear with 100% UV protection.  Before you say you don’t like sunglasses, ask yourself how much you value your vision.
  • Blue light protection: How many hours do you spend staring at a screen?  Our devices emit blue light, which is similar to UV light.  It’s an easy fix – use eyewear that will block blue light from screens.
  • Safety glasses: The worst eye injuries I have ever seen happened to people who were not wearing safety glasses.  Wear safety eyewear whenever you’re doing anything that could harm your eyes.

You’re smoking.  If you smoke, you must stop.  Smoking is extremely dangerous to your eye health (it’s the number one risk factor for macular degeneration).  If you need help quitting, consult your doctor.  Whatever it takes, it will be worth it.

You’re not controlling your health.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other diseases have real effects on your eye health and vision.  Many people think their eyes work separately from their overall health.  The opposite is true.  Your eyes are only as healthy as you are, even if you think you see well.

You’re not listening to your doctor.  Like Dr. Liz’s patient, there are people who seek eye care and then refuse to listen.  While baffling, I think I know the reason – they don’t like the answer.  Many patients who refuse to listen to real solutions simply don’t want to change their habits – they want the magic pill instead.

It’s Good Information to Know

Review the list above.  If you have time, click the links – they’ll connect you to articles with more information.  Ask yourself you’re committing one or more of these errors.  If so, take steps today to change.

Living the visual lifestyle is simple, but it isn’t necessarily easy.  But the effort you make today will be worth it.  You’re giving yourself the best chance of having a lifetime of comfortable, clear vision and healthy eyes.

Question: Be honest – which item in the list above describes you? Tell me in the comments below.

P.S. Don’t miss my next post – I’ll reveal more ways you may be risking your vision without knowing it.

Predict Your Future by Answering This One Unusual Question

How Long Do You Want Your Eyes to Work?

The DIY industry promises “faster” and “cheaper.”  But before you’re tempted to put eye care on your DIY to-do list, think carefully about your answer to this question.

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When I was in optometry school, I ordered a ceiling fan for my apartment.  It was delivered in the box – installation was up to me.  I had some experience with electrical wiring, so I knew I could install it that afternoon.  After a short time, I flipped the switch.

I nearly burned down my apartment.

I had installed it wrong.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and no damage was done.  But my DIY experiment could have been disastrous.

Do-It-Yourself, or Don’t?

I remember watching This Old House with my dad.  When Bob Vila showed up, he was either breaking or building something.  It was a treat to watch and fun to try on our own.

Today, DIY isn’t just a movement.  For some people it’s a lifestyle and they love the challenge.  Many tutorials focus on faster and cheaper techniques.  Staying under budget is a common point of drama for many DIY reality shows.

The Eye Care Connection

It was inevitable that eye care technology alternatives would arrive.  Some have been good, and others questionable.  Sadly, some awful vision care concepts have gone viral and flourish today.  And, some of the finest innovations in eye care came from companies that no longer exist.

Here’s Where You Need to Be Careful

In my last post, I discussed the DIY craze and eye care.  Many companies advertise faster, cheaper alternatives to traditional eye care.  Examples include:

  • Online glasses sales
  • Online contact lens sales
  • Online frame try-on technology
  • Online vision tests
  • Kiosk vision tests
  • Vision test apps

None of these alternatives offers human interaction.  You need an eye care professional with experience .  But in these cases, you get no experience at all.  At LaFollette Eye Clinic, our doctors and certified team have well over 250 years combined experience in eye care.  You can’t get that from a screen.

How Long Will You Need Your Eyes to Work?

No DIY professional claims their work lasts forever.  There may be warrantees, but not many contractors guarantee their work for life.  By default, the majority of DIY projects are temporary.  Paint, paper, wires, and cables all eventually need replacing.

But you can’t replace your eyes.

That is why I believe the DIY movement poses a threat to your eye health and vision.  Here’s why:

  • First, alternative eye care companies use standard marketing tactics.  They know it’s tempting for you to follow the crowd.  They know saving time and money is a huge driver of consumer spending.  But faster and cheaper isn’t always the better value, especially when it comes to your most precious sense.
  • Second, despite their disclaimers, these companies want you to believe their products or services are good enough for your visual needs.  They are anything but.

The answer is simple: You need your eyes to work well your entire life.  Think about twenty, ten, or even five years from now.  Recognize that DIY care for you, your health, and your eyes isn’t what you need to preserve your vision forever.

Get help and trust your eyes to an expert.  Developing a relationship with an eye doctor you trust is one of the primary concepts of living the visual lifestyle.  And, it assures you the best chance of having a future of clear vision and healthy eyes.

Question: What’s your favorite DIY story?  Whether it was successful or a disaster, tell about it in the comments below.

4 Reasons You Don’t Want an Automated Vision Test

Your Vision Is Worth so Much More

The DIY movement has been popular for years.  You can get almost anything online or from a vending machine with no human interaction at all.  But is this how you want to take care of your most valuable sense?

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According to an article by the American Optometric Association, Michigan has barred online eye tests by Opternative.  They claim the tests violate state health codes by issuing glasses and contact lens prescriptions without an eye health exam, and using an automated process to determine prescriptions.

Michigan’s Eye Care Consumer Protection Law states a licensed professional must review both vision and eye health.  In short, if you don’t see a doctor, you don’t have a prescription.

Protecting the Public or Special Interests?

Michigan’s optometry and ophthalmology groups are praising the effort as a win for consumer and patient safety.

Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA president, states in the article, “Online vision tests like Opternative are, at best, estimates of consumers’ refractive errors; they are not eye examinations in which a patient can be assured that their prescription has been accurately validated in person, and more importantly, that their eye health has been evaluated by their doctor.” He goes on to point out, ” the public is being misled by online claims.”

Other groups are crying foul.  Consumer watchdog organizations claim the legislation is designed to protect the eye care industry.  Others state they believe the general public can tell the difference between an online eye test and a complete eye exam.

Confusing at Best

A review of the Opternative website appears to add to the confusion:

  • The site uses the words “exam” or “eye exam” more than a dozen times on three main pages.
  • The tagline boasts “eye exams from home.”
  • Testimonials imply their customers have no plans to seek traditional medical eye care.
  • They advertise specialists in “cataracts, laser surgery, and glaucoma,” none of which can be diagnosed, treated, or performed online.

Although the site contains a small disclaimer that states their services do not include an eye health exam, Opternative seems to be anything but clear.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Family?

First, if you are living the visual lifestyle, you understand a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor you trust is the foundation.  If you are tempted to save time by acquiring your prescription using automated technology, don’t.

Here are four reasons you don’t want an automated vision test:

Your vision deserves better.  Technology is capable of estimating prescriptions pretty well – I’ve seen it and it works.  But determining your prescription is both art and science.  At LaFollette Eye Clinic our doctors verify and enhance automated results.

Your lifestyle deserves better.  What automation can’t do is ask you how you use your eyes, what prescription you are wearing now, or what specific situations challenge your vision.  Only a complete eye exam offers you that.

Your eye health deserves better.  In spite of what online companies would like you to believe, determining your prescription is not an eye exam.  The most dangerous eye diseases are silent – you can’t see or feel them until it’s too late.  So it is vital you have a yearly dilated eye exam.

You deserve better.  A vision test can’t give you peace of mind.  When your eyes, health, vision, and comfort are all excellent, there is little left to worry about.  One of our greatest health care fears is vision loss and blindness, so you would expect visual telemedicine to fail.  Sadly, a combination of the bandwagon effect and misleading advertising may cause many to risk their eye health for the sake of convenience.

Think About Your Visual Future

We live in an instant-on world.  But you need clear, comfortable vision for a lifetime.  If you’re living the visual lifestyle, you’ll choose proper care for you and your loved ones and skip online vision tests.

Question: What do you refuse to do online?  Feel free to answer in the comments below.