When to see
an eye doctor
THE AMERICAN ACADEMY of
Ophthalmology suggests seeing
an ophthalmologist immediately
if you notice:
• Bulging of one or both eyes.
• A dark curtain or veil that
blocks your vision.
• Decreased vision, even
• Double vision.
• Excess tearing.
• Injury to an eye.
• Loss of peripheral (side) vision.
• Pain in the eye.
• Unusual or persistent redness.
needs to be checked annually. Those with
certain medical problems, such as diabetes
and some autoimmune diseases, also need
annual monitoring, she says.
Overall health and your eyes
Taking care of your overall health is also
important for your eyes, says Dr. Anne
Sumers, an ophthalmologist in Ridgewood,
New Jersey, and a spokesperson for the
American Academy of Ophthalmology. “If
you smoke, stop,” she urges. “Smoking
increases the risk of vision loss from macular
degeneration and cataracts.”
Carefully managing any chronic condi-
tions—such as diabetes, coronary heart dis-
ease or obesity—can also play a role in eye
health, says Bishop. What affects the body
affects the eye, she explains.
Sumers, a Costco member, recommends
eating a healthy diet with lots of green leafy
vegetables, sweet potatoes and carrots. She
also suggests getting plenty of omega- 3 fatty
acids and cold-water fish, such as salmon. “A
healthy diet really does help prevent eye disease,” she says.
Protecting eyes from accidents is also
important. Cal Martindale, an optometrist at
Costco in Westlake Village, California, got
hit in the head playing basketball a few years
ago and suffered a retinal detachment. “I
wear sport goggles now,” he says.
Wear polarized sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect you from ultraviolet
light and glare. Sunglasses with 98 percent
ultraviolet protection are like sunscreen for
your eyes, says Martindale.
What not to do
Sumers says there are some things you
should avoid doing.
Don’t rub your eyes. If they itch, try
artificial tears, a cold compress on your eyes
or nonprescription anti-itch drops. If that
The Costco Connection
Members can obtain a comprehensive eye
exam and other services, and purchase
glasses, polarized sunglasses and contact
lenses, at Costco Optical Departments.
Contact lenses and reading glasses are
also available on Costco.com.
Eyes are the prize
By Barbara Bronson Gray
IT’S EASY TO take your eyes for granted.
That’s why the National Eye Institute
dedicates the month of May to making eye
health a priority.
Your eyes won’t alert you to serious problems, says Dr. Rachel Bishop, an ophthalmologist with the National Eye Institute, in
Bethesda, Maryland. “There are a whole lot
of body systems that hurt when you have a
problem, but with vision and eyes, the most
common diseases don’t have early warning
signs,” she explains.
We get accustomed to our vision as it
changes, and if we do notice small changes,
we figure it is just due to aging, says Bishop.
But vision loss is not normal. “If you notice a
change in vision at any age, it deserves attention,” she says. Some 14 million Americans
are visually impaired and 11 million would
benefit from glasses or contact lenses.
What you can do now
If you haven’t had a complete eye exam,
once you’re 40, it’s time, Bishop says. It
involves vision screening and putting drops
in the eyes to open the pupils and examine
the eye’s structure, including the retina.
It’s also a good time to have a quick,
painless test for glaucoma, an increase in eye
pressure that can cause loss of sight.
Depending on what genetic or ethnic risk
factors you may have, you may be advised to
come back every one to two years. African-Americans have a higher risk of glaucoma.
If you wear contact lenses, the cornea
doesn’t work, see an ophthalmologist.
Never use other people’s eye drops or eye
medicines. What was prescribed for them may
not be right for you.
Don’t ignore symptoms. If anything
changes or bothers you, get it checked out.
Don’t wear old eye makeup. Throw it
away after three months, never borrow
makeup and remove it thoroughly every night.
Bishop warns against working at a computer for more than 20 minutes at a time
without looking 20 feet away: “You need a
20-second focus break.” C
Barbara Bronson Gray is a registered nurse.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here for a video explaining the
importance of a comprehensive eye
exam. (See page 15 for more details.)