OPTICAL PRISM | FEATURE
Vision loss most feared disability
BY DR . HARRY BOHNSACK , President , Canadian Association of Optometrists
Over the years , there have been a number of surveys of Canadians that include a question about their most feared disability and the results are always the same .
The vast majority say vision loss .
The visual system is a tremendously precious and complex sensory system that truly deserves our appreciation and attention .
Vision loss can be treated or prevented in 75 per cent of cases , yet in 2021 , 1.2 million Canadians are living with vision loss , more than 8 million Canadians are at risk of eye-threatening conditions and more than 1.2 million Canadians missed work or school because of vision problems .
Billions of dollars continue to be spent annually because of the lack of attention to eye health as a component of overall health care .
40 OPTICAL PRISM | May 2022
At a policy level , the Canadian Association of Optometrists ( CAO ) is working with a variety of like-minded groups to advocate to the federal government about the need for a comprehensive eye health and vision care strategy for Canada that strives to maximize the health , independence and economic participation of its citizens .
The aging demographic , increased rates of eye disease , shortages of eye medications , access to vision care by vulnerable populations , need for increased eye health and vision research are all issues that need attention and a cohesive national strategy .
The Federal Role in Eye Health and Vision Care is a reflection of our collective concerns on the topic .
While this push for a systemic response to better eye health and vision care is an important one , it will take time to come to fruition .
THE CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF OPTOMETRISTS is the national voice of optometry , providing leadership and support to its more than 5,400 members to enhance the delivery of healthy eyes and clear vision for all Canadians .
More importantly , it doesn ’ t replace our individual responsibility to take steps for better vision health , so that we enjoy better eye health and , by consequence , a better quality of life .
The first one is easy ; to get a comprehensive eye exam from an optometrist .
CAO recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for those between 19 and 65 , but annual exams are recommended for children and seniors or for those who have an eye disease that may warrant more frequent follow-up .
After all , an exam is not just about a new glasses prescription , although that may be the result .
It is an opportunity for an optometrist to determine if there is something else going on with your vision or eye health that you might not even be aware of , but warrants more attention .
Some other easy steps to better vision heath ?
Wear sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays , which can lead to cataracts or age-related macular degeneration .
UV protection can also be enhanced in your regular eyewear and even your contact lenses if your work or recreation has you outdoors much of the day .
A healthier lifestyle is a positive thing for your entire body , and research proves that not smoking and eating foods rich in zeaxanthin and beta-carotene ( yams , sweet potatoes ), omega-3 fatty acids ( salmon ) and lutein ( kale and spinach ) as well as vitaminC ( bell peppers , strawberries , and grapefruit ), can have a beneficial effect on your eye health .
Wearing proper eye safety equipment whether you are playing sports , or working in a job that requires them should be another no-brainer . Finally , it pays to know what your family medical history is , because many eye diseases are hereditary . Knowing and sharing this with your optometrist provides valuable perspective during an examination .
During Vision Health Month , make your eye health a priority , starting with a visit to your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam . OP