Letter: Eye protection at elevation
Summer is in full swing, and it’s time for Coloradoans to do what you do best — soak up the great outdoors. With the longer days and most of the state sitting more than a mile high, it’s also the season to be especially vigilant about sun protection.
Most of us recognize the value of slathering on sunscreen to protect our skin, but eye protection can often be overlooked. Healthy vision is important year-round, but particularly when the sun is at its strongest. Prolonged exposure to solar radiation — from above or reflected back off the water or snow — has been linked with developing cataracts or macular degeneration later in life.
Most people think of the traditional ways to protect their eyes during the summer. For instance, with Colorado being one of the sunniest states, you probably already own a few pairs of sunglasses and won’t leave the house without them. And that’s good because sunglasses, whether purchased from your eye care professional or a retail outlet, help shield your eyes. Polarized, wrap-around style glasses labeled with a 100 percent UVA/UVB rating are your best choice. There are also eye-specific sunscreen lotions for the skin around your eyes, with an SPF of at least 30 being ideal. Coloradoans also know that making your own shade is a great way to beat the heat and get some much-needed relief for their eyes on bright sunny days. So make sure you bring along your favorite Rockies cap, a big golf umbrella or even a pop-up tent when you head outdoors.
While sunglasses, sunscreen, and shade are key, nothing ensures your eyes will remain healthy for years to come like an annual eye exam by an eye care professional. Everyone, from children to seniors, can benefit from an annual check-up. Eye exams are a simple, noninvasive way to make sure your eyes are healthy. They also can detect serious medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders and cancer, often very early in the disease progression.
As executive director of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP), I have seen the indisputable evidence linking regular eye exams to better vision and health. Managed vision care plans offer affordable access to eye care that best meets the needs of individual patients. Managed vision care plans lower costs — cost is the No. 1 reason people put off vision care. Recent research shows that consumers are four times more likely to seek professional eye care services when offered vision benefits that cover both an eye exam as well as glasses and/or contact lenses. That is why NAVCP advocates for access to quality, affordable vision care.
Summer eye protection is more than just sunglasses and sunscreen. It’s about taking that extra step and using your managed vision care benefits to get an eye exam and, if needed, update your prescription eyewear. If you already have a vision care plan, put it to use by scheduling a visit for you or your family with your preferred eye care professional. If you don’t, talk to your employer or explore your options for a stand-alone vision care plan that best meets your needs. Make sure your eyes are summer-ready.
Executive director, National Association of Vision Care Plans
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