I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt, Board Director for the American Optometric Society to discuss the importance of regular eye exams, new innovations in contact lenses and much more!
Candace Rose: Many people believe that they don't need to schedule an eye exam if they aren't having problems with their vision. How are important are regular eye exams and how often should we be having them?
Dr. Michael Rosenblatt: "Regular eye exams are very, very important. Many people obviously look and they feel just because they can see clearly that their eyes are healthy and that's where the problem begins. Our eye exam on an annual basis begins with a vision check but we also do a comprehensive internal eye health evaluation and we're looking for problems say from Glaucoma and Cataracts but we are then looking for medical problems say from Diabetes or even High Blood Pressure."
CR: At what age should children start going in for regular eye exams?
MR: "Well, there is a special program for children from the ages of 6 months to 12 months of age, that's when they should have their first eye screening. You can actually go onto InfantSee.org and find a doctor that participates in that program."
InfantSEE: A Public Health Program for Infants – InfantSEE.org
CR: What are some common mistakes contact lens wearers make and what should be doing to correct this?
MR: "Well, contact lenses actually are very safe and easy today. There are some things that you can do to obviously make your lens wearer more comfortable and have the ability to wear lenses for long into the future. You want to do three things; and that is before you ever put a contact lens in or take a lens out you want to make sure that you are washing your hands. That's one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of infection. The other is as you wear your contact lenses make sure that you're replacing your lens as your doctor recommends. Many, many patients certainly try to extend the life of a contact lens but it only leads to other problems later. One way to help people remember is an easy electronic reminder tool called ACUMINDER.com. Any contact lens wearer can sign up for that service. And then if you're going to use a lens a second time or more you want to make sure that you're cleaning that lens and disinfecting that lens properly. You want to make sure that you are using fresh solution every day, that you're using a full solution that case every night, that you're cleaning and emptying that solution every morning in that case, so your case can stay clean and dry. For some that may sound like that's too much for contact lens wearers, so the fastest way is currently growing in terms of contact lenses that are single use, daily disposable contact lenses. We happen to use in our practice 1- Day Acuvue Moist and we feel it is the ultimate in both health and convenience."
CR: With summer rapidly approaching how can parents protect their children's eyes from the suns harmful rays?
MR: "It's very, very important we protect our children's eyes, currently only about 39% of our children even wear sunglasses when they're outdoors and they get significantly more exposure than you and I. They're playing sports, they're outside more often, they have larger pupils, their eyes are clear and wearing sunglasses is important but it's not the only thing. I actually instruct my patients to wear sunglasses that are large, that wrap around their face. Make sure they are wearing a hat that has a brim so that it's blocking the light from above and you can even add to that with contact lenses today. Today's contact lenses like the Acuvue Oasys lens is a lens that protects your eyes from 90% UVA and 99% UVB so in situations where you can't even perhaps wear that hat or those sunglasses like those again, those kids that are outside playing sports, at least they can get protection in contact lenses."
CR: Do you have any advice for those of us who spend hours in front of the computer screen and our trusty handheld devices?
MR: "Oh absolutely, you know that's become the new problem for us with our patients, that's one of their biggest complaints and we find that of course if you're sitting at a desk at a computer you want to make sure the computer is far enough away – 24 inches away. You don't want it too close, you don't want it too far. You want to make sure it's lower than your eye level, so you're looking slightly down at it and you want to make sure that it's straight in front of you. But the big thing, the one thing that I stress most is to remember this simple rule 'the 20/20/20 rule.' What you want to do is for every 20 minutes of electronic device use, you want to take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. The idea there being is you want to make sure you're keeping your focusing system relaxed, you're keeping it flexible and that reduces the fatigue and the strain."
CR: Where can we go for more information?
MR: "Well, first go to your eye doctor. I mean everyone I'm sure, or most everyone needs to have that annual comprehensive eye exam, they should be able to answer all those questions for you and again for those contact lens wearers who have trouble remembering when to replace their lenses visit Acuminder.com