Eye care: Leave it to professionals, not carrots

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
"Be sure to eat your carrots; they'll help your vision."

This is a common quote many Americans have heard an aunt or grandmother say. As it turns out, that statement is just one of the many myths concerning the human eye. January is National Eye Care Month and below are a few accurate tips to guide people in the proper care of their eyes.

First and foremost, an annual eye exam should be accomplished by everyone to ensure any possible problems are caught at an early stage.

"We recommend yearly eye exams, even for individuals who think their vision is doing well," said Capt. (Dr.) Adam Klemens, the 30th Medical Group's chief optometrist. "There are other things that can be going on that don't necessarily have anything to do with vision ... it's one of your military benefits, so you may as well take advantage of it."

Obvious signs of trouble should also be brought to the attention of a doctor.

"Pain should never be associated with the eye," Dr. Klemens said. "Any sort of pain should be looked into immediately. Also flashes of light, or shadows or flutters in the vision should be checked as well."

Some people have trouble admitting they need eye care or just refuse to see the optometrist.

"The most common thing we hear is people saying 'If I wear glasses, it's going to make my vision worse,'" Dr. Klemens said. "It doesn't really make their vision worse. Most people start wearing the glasses on a regular basis and realize it really helps them out in the long run.

"At the very least, I would say if they are having trouble driving, then they really need to come in and see us," he added.

Some choose to wear contacts in place of glasses. This is another choice that needs to be made after consulting your doctor.

"In some cases, people do actually see better with contacts," Dr. Klemens said. "But in most cases the choice to wear contacts is purely cosmetic."

It is also not a choice to be made lightly. Many people who wear cosmetic lenses choose different color lenses or other variations of the standard contact lens. And some people purchase these lenses outside the guidance of a doctor. This can be dangerous ... and sometimes illegal.

"You have to get a contact prescribed for you by a doctor," Dr. Klemens said. "Whenever we find out about them, we actually report them to the authorities so they can be stopped."

In general, there are many small things people can do to help care for their eyes. These include giving their eyes a break while at work for about ten minutes per hour. They can also reduce the brightness of their computer screens and wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays while outside. People should also never wear contact lenses while asleep.

"There are some brands of contacts that are designed to be able to be worn while you sleep," Dr. Klemens said. "But that is something you should really discuss with your doctor."

So while carrots are indeed good for people, there are many more tried and true methods to care for eyes. For more information on eye care, visit the American Optometric Association's Web site at www.aoa.org.