September is Save Your Sight Month

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There is a saying that we never appreciate something until it is loss, including something as important as our vision. Many of us never give it a second thought to go to the doctor the minute we do not feel well, but how many of us visit our local ophthalmologist or optometrist every year for an eye exam. Unfortunately many of us fail to understand the importance of having a yearly eye exam; therefore, we may not be aware of any underlying vision conditions or diseases.

When my daughter failed an eye screening exam in second grade I was unaware that she was even having problems. During her exam with the ophthalmologist, he informed me that many people aren’t even aware of vision issues until they receive their corrective lenses and they discover a whole new world.

Now that I have reached my late 40s, I have had to resort to wearing reading glasses. My arms just aren’t long enough. While I was convinced that I would never fall into this category, that is not the case. With aging comes the need to wear glasses, not just for reading, but in doing tasks such as cross stitching, scrapbooking, even cooking.

Eye exams are crucial, especially as we get older. According to The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, "by age 65, one in three Americans has some form of limiting eye disease." The risk for developing eye conditions and diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, even diabetic retinopathy, increase with each passing year making eye exams a necessary part of our yearly medical evaluation.

In honor of Save Your Sight Month, EyeCare America, The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology is offering a referral service for eye exams with no-out-pocket cost to those who qualify. By visiting the link above, you can determine whether you or your loved one meets the qualifications for an eye exam and follow-up care.

Our vision plays such a vital role in our everyday life which is why we must do what we can to preserve it. Like I said earlier, we never know what we will miss until we longer have it. By taking the necessary steps early on, hopefully we can maintain a quality of life by preserving our eyesight.

Do you have a yearly eye exam, if not why? Do you believe vision problems are only for those over the age of 40? Have you ever participated in the EyeCare America program?

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It was easier when I still had a regular eye doctor. I had a good ophthalmologist for years while I was growing up and needed permanent glasses and then when he retired I went to one he worked with but then HE retired without a forwarding one. I have been to optometrists don't like them won't use them. Report
I didnt think I needed to have yearly eye exams because I had lasik surgery to correct my bad eyesight and astigatism like 5 yrs ago when I was in my 30s. Until about 8 months ago when I started seeing weird things I went to the eye dr found out that they were floaters but they were unusually large and they could cause trouble if they pulled on my retina so I was sent to a retina expert. Thankfully nothing happened. Then over the past couple of months i have noticed my eyesight was getting worse which didnt make sense went back to the expert and learned that I am in the beginning stages of cataracts. I will definitely be getting yearly check-ups now. Report
I got my first pair of glasses in 3rd grade and my eyes have been getting worse ever since. I am severly near sighted. My problem is not with getting my yearly eye exam; it is being able to afford getting glasses and contacts. I have the same pair of glasses that I got in junior high. My family could not afford the 300+ dollars a year for new glasses. I think it is terrible that those with high prescriptions have to pay extra. It is not our fault that our eyesight is so bad. Report
I get my eyes checked every year. Even at 29, my eyesight changes a little every year. So the exam ensures that my contacts are the correct prescription. I only update my glasses every few years since I primarily use my contacts.

I also have a yearly exam with a specialist. I have a family history of poor health and the exams give me the piece of mind that the doctor will catch anything before it becomes a problem. Report
I haven't had an eye exam in five years since I bought new glasses to change my style. I don't think spending money on yearly exams is necessary, but it makes lots of money for those selling the exams. Report
I go to my opthomologist regularly. My ability to read my beloved books is soooo important to me, and, of course, the ability to see makes all of life easier and more beautiful. If insurance doesn't cover eye examines or you don't have insurance, please, please seek out the free or almost free clinics available in many places, including many hospitals. Report
Since we have insurance that covers it, we do go every year. Report
I thought you should visit an opthalmologist every year but then I saw an article not that long ago that said you should visit the opthalmologist every 2 yrs. Has anyone else heard of this? Report
Be sure to wear sunglasses also. In sunny AZ there is a high rate of cataracts. Report
Have to see the neuro-opthamologist every year. As soon as one appoinment is done-another scheduled for the next year. Unfortunately, found out a bit too late how important eye sight is. Have macular degeneration so....SEE THE EYE DOCTOR IT IS VERY IMPORTANT. DON'T WAIT!! Report
I get my eyes checked yearly and I started taking my kids for yearly exams since kindergarten. I was raised with the belief that eye health is extremely important... perhaps it's because my dad lost one eye when he was 7 while he was playing around with a screwdriver. Regardless, I will scrimp and save and go without to make sure the eyes in my family stay healthy (I do the same with teeth and other annual physicals). Report
My son lost his vision due to retinopathy of prematurity so has been totally blind all of his life. I can't tell you how much easier his life would be if he had even a little vision.
Take care of your vision, it is a precious gift! Report
I started wearing glasses when I was 10, but hardly wore them at all until I got to high school. Went through numerous pairs of glasses, don't know how my parents afforded it, with all 4 kids plus themselves with glasses! I switched to contacts when I got out on my own, wore them for years along with my glasses. Finally had a revelation after my younger brother got lasik surgery in 2002. Me and my other brother went a few months later and had it done together and now we both go get our exam every year together! btw, our eye doctor is also a fireman who works with my brother, so our fee is usually a gift card for a local restaurant. Can't beat it!

My husband gets his yearly check up at the local VA hospital, so we're both ok. Report
As previously stated... What a shame that providers do not charge reasonable fees. An eye exam can be over one hundred dollars, and for eyeglasses the cost is often absurd! It is wonderful that there are programs for those of low income, but many do not qualify who need help. As a child I did not know that I had a serious vision impairment. I was born with a macular scar and no ability to focus my left eye; I could not read the "E"...on the chart. And this was a school exam by parent volunteers. I now get regular exams, especially because my mother has glaucoma. Sadly...though, we are in a health care crisis because medical greed became the out of control monster. The root problem is greed, and now we are in an uproar over the Government intervention. Yes, take care of your eyes if you can afford it.... and eat carrots! Report
I go to the eye doctor's once every year.I am 52 years old and had my first cataract operation at the age of 39, 6 months later I had a detached retina in the same eye and was operated on.. In 1998, I had another detached retina in the other eye, once again another laser sugery, and finally in 2004 I had a cataract in the same eye with the detached retina. In 8 years time I had 5 surgeries on my eyes(one was minor) so I know the importance of getting my eyes checked regularly. At one time I had 2 eye exams each year but now it's just one. My eyes are doing well now so I am thankful for that. Report
I have been in glasses since I was in college; my DH has been in glasses since elementary school. Hence, three of our four kids are in glasses, too. We go for yearly exams, as that is what insurance allows. Both DH and I work on computers all day. I don't wear contacts b/c I like the sharper vision that I get with my glasses. I notice when I need new glasses! Report
I used to go to the eye doc every year, but money is tight right now so it's every couple of years now. Report
I'm due for an eye exam. I usually get one every couple of years. I have one every two years because an opthamologist once told me he wasn't in the business of selling glasses. He said most people really don't need to have an exam every year because their vision doesn't change that dramatically. Some people yes, most people no. Report
I have 40's eyes and started wearing reading glasses a few years ago. I love to read too much to go without! Report
I have a really good ophthalmologist who checks my eyes annually -- and sometimes in between. I'm diabetic, so that makes it even more important. Those visits are covered by Medicare and my insurance, but they won't pay for eye exams or glasses. I'm old and on a fixed income, and I can't afford to have that -- and dental work -- done when it should be. Report
My hubby and I both just had our exams, and needed new glasses. Report
I have my eyes checked every year I wear contacts in order to get more I have to have an exam my Dr. just doesn't presicbe the contacts. My kids get an exam every year it is a condition on their education plan in school. I just found out the other day that DH's employer is bringing a vision plan back hopefully it will be worth it. Report
Will have to have surgery for cataracts within the near future. Also being monitored for glaucoma. I've gone for my yearly eye check up for years. Report
When my youngest son was 5, he cried for an eye exam because he saw his older brother get one. The very nice optometrist winked at me and told him to get in the chair and he proceeded to check my son's eyes. Imagine my surprise when he told me that he was referring me to an opthomologist because he has amblyopia ( Lazy Eye) We did and he wore a patch on the unaffected eye for about a year to force the lazy eye to work. His vision was corrected and is much better, thank the Lord. We all get eye exams yearly.
I have a yearly exam, if not more often. I'm diabetic, so it's a given. Report
So have I, Mindhorizon! My mother took me to an eye screening and that is where we learned I needed glasses. I'm pretty good about getting my eyes checked at least once a year. Report
So have I, Mindhorizon! My mother took me to an eye screening and that is where we learned I needed glasses. I'm pretty good about getting my eyes checked at least once a year. Report
I've been wearing corrective lenses of one kind or another since first grade. I've had regular exams since then. These days, when I'm settling up from a visit, we make an appointment for the next one. Report
My husband and I found out my daughter was blind when she was 7 months old. We noticed that her eyes never focused and she would never look toward noices. She had to have a mri and we found out that she was blind due to an underdeveloped petutitary gland, so her optic nerves never developed fully, she can only see a little bit of light... not only is she blind but she has to take meds because some of her hormones arent at the levels they should be. Report
Awesome article. I have a comprehensive exam yearly and replace my glasses/contacts based on my opthalmologists' recommendation. I also make sure I have the proper amount of UV protection in my sunglasses and sport eyewear. Report
I just had my eye exam, got some new glasses and can see again! Report
I just had my annual eye exam. I go every year. I am fortunate I have vision insurance . It doesnt cover it all, just the exam. My eyeglass prescription was changed to a multifocal lens. This has taken some getting used to. Report
Checking vision should begin VERY young. People donot seem to realise that children can get eye diseases---I have a granddaughter who was diagnosed with GLAUCOMA at the age of FIVE----As things are now===she will lose her sight by 40-----So you see eye problems are not limited to the older generation. Report
I did my yearly on I guess I celebrated Vision Month! Report
I get my eyes checked every 2 years. That's what my insurance allows. Report
Yes, we all wear eye glasses in my family: myself, my husband, and my son. My son was determined to need glasses at the age of 4 so after speaking with one of our opticians we found out which eye care insurance would work the best for our family. We go regularly for exams and new glasses. I have also been determined to be at risk for macular degeneration so I am doing whatever is needed in my healthy lifestyle to combat that. Report
I was diagnosed with macular degeneration at 45, had a macular hole form shortly thereafter and currently am awaiting a second cataract surgery. Get your eyes checked!! You never know how beautiful God's creation is until you can see it well. You never know how scary blindness is until you feel the reality of it in your own life. Report
I go regularly for my yearly eye exam since I wear glasses to use my computer. My optometrist recommended I see an opthamologist because of possible glaucoma after one of the routine exams and repeatedly for the next two years. I did not go to the opthamologist for 2 or 3 years after the request, even though I continued to have the routine exams. I didn't think much of it since there was no family history and no real danger. Well, I am a glaucoma suspect, but fortunately it has not worsened since I finally went 2 years ago. I didn't think about how important my vision was until I was sitting in the chair with drops in my eyes and blurry vision. Thanks for addressing this topic. Hope everyone will listen to your advice. Report
I've had myopia since Kindergarten. I have a stigmatism in my right eye, not bad enough to require correction. I am due for my yearly vision exam. Thanks for the reminder! Report
Great Article and a good reminder to take care of your eyes. I get my eyes examined every 2 years. If you need to resort to the reading glasses sold in the drug stores and elswhere, it might be a good time to consider having your eyes checked by a professional just to make sure there aren't any other underlying causes. Report
Good article and it is true you don't know the value of good health or eyesight until it is taken from you. Report
Like many others have stated...I've had eye problems since I was a youngster, when a school mate threw a snowball at me. He had unknowing packed a icicle in it and that snowball hit me in the face sending the icicle into my eye. Yep!!! glasses at 7, Now I have Macular Degeneration which came on suddenly at age 56. Not because of the icicle, but for those that don't take care of your eyes, PLEASE DO. Till you loose it you don't realize how much you depend on them. Report
Thanks Nancy, for this information. My dad has Macular Degeneration, and it's hard to watch his eyesight deteriorate. Report
I go every two years, because that's what my doctor and insurance recommend. If there is a reason to go more often, then I will. Report
I have intaocular hypertension so I have to go every 3 mos for the pressure to be checked. I used to have my eyes checked every 2 years. Report
at 43, 3 years ago, i was the only member of my family over 40 (7 kids) not to be in glasses. apparently 40 was the magic number for all of them.. then, it hit me too. 3 years later i am a stickler for getting my eyes checked regularly. i notice the second i am slightlest out of focus and it bugs the crap out of me. fortunate for me, i like my eye doctor, she is a riot to be around, very funny and extremely efficient. Report
I don't go yearly--I go every 6 mos because glaucoma runs in my family. My grandfather was blind. I have intraocular hypertension--the pressure in my eyes is greater than it should be. I don't have glaucoma--but we watch my pressure constantly. I have also had optic neuritis--really scary--it's vision loss--but thankfully I recovered totally. Yes--my eye doctor and I see each other on a VERY regular basis. By the way I eat a lot of greens and I credit my recovery partly on good nutrition as well as medical intervention. Report
Is there a dailySpark article discussing nutrition needs for healthy eyes? If not, I'd love to see one :)

My father (age 68) has macular degeneration and is pretty close to blind. So even at age 25, I still try to see an eye doctor every two years--both to check the correction needed and the overall health of my eyes. I've never participated in the EyeCare America program. Report
I used to only get a new eye exam when my glasses broke and I had to have a new pair, but lately my vision has been changing and I have gotten them more frequently - last time I was very glad I did as my Optometrist spotted a problem with my retina and referred me to an Opthalmologist who specializes in problems of the retina and vitreous, who treated me for a detached retina - if this had not been caught it could well have cost me my sight in that eye! Report
I get my eyes checked about every other year. At 65, my eyes don't change much with the glasses. What I am watching are the cataracts my Dr. told me I have. I take alot of things to keep my eyes healthy as well as eating alot of veggies and fruits. My mom has one eye that is gone, and the other has macular, and I am so determined NOT to have that happen to me!!! Report