Did you know that almost 2.4 billion people worldwide suffer from some sort of vision impairment? And that 80 percent of those vision problems are avoidable or curable?
February is Low Vision Awareness Month and Project Vision Hawaii has dedicated this month to the promotion of eye health awareness, prevention and treatment for Hawaii’s communities.
Seeing all the images around us clearly each day requires the effort of almost half our brain and involves over two million working parts. As you can probably surmise, keeping all of these parts working efficiently can be a challenge, especially if we don’t keep up with other aspects of our health.
For instance, individuals with high blood sugar and blood pressure have a higher chance of eye complications such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinopathy.
So what can you do to keep your eyes in tip-top shape?
Make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam once per year and understand your family’s eye health history, as several eye disorders are related to your genes. Eat a healthy diet, particularly foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon and halibut and also dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens.
Engage in moderate levels of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and either reduce or quit smoking. It is also important to wear UV protection goggles and sunglasses.
Finally, give your eyes a rest! If your eyes engage in a lot of screen time, make sure to follow the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, stare at something 20-feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Fortunately, Project Vision is here to help. PVH provides free, mobile vision screenings for the state’s underserved communities and advocates for the early detection of health complications. PVH has two “vision vans” located full time on Oahu and Hawa‘i Island and one vision van that lives between Kauai and Maui.
During our screenings, adults test their near vision and far vision. We then take a retinal image in order to identify early warning signs for impairments such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, atrophy and retinopathy. Free reading glasses are included in your visit.
Project Vision also provides screenings for keiki as young as six months. Our kid-friendly camera detects for visual acuity, refraction, corneal irregularities and symmetric eye alignment and all keiki walk away with a free pair of UV protection sunglasses.
PVH staff can link individuals and their families to follow up care providers and can also connect screening participants to health insurance plans that can cover the cost of an annual visit and several treatments.