Healthy Vision Month is celebrated every year in May to stress the importance of the health of our eyes. This month was established by the National Eye Institute in 2003 and aims to spread awareness and educate people about the risks of ignoring the health of their eyes.
Promoting the importance of healthy vision and regular eye examinations is a daily undertaking for doctors of optometry, but it’s a message that’s especially strong in May.
Here are just a few interesting historical facts about the eye.
The first record of the treatment of eye disease dates back to the Ebers Papyrus from Egypt in 1550 B.C. Another early medical text that had extensive info about eye treatment was the “Sushruta Samhita,” an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery that is considered one of the pillars of Ayurveda, dating back to the 6th century B.C. The Ancient Greeks also made key advances in the understanding of the human eye. The Middle Ages saw the use of the microscopes and lenses to examine the eye and its structure.
In the early 1800, Georg Joseph Beer, an Austrian ophthalmologist, is credited with introducing a flap operation for treatment of cataracts, as well as popularizing the instrument used to perform the surgery. In 1931, Vladimir Petrovich Filatov became the first person to perform a successful corneal transplant. Charles Schepens founded the Retina Foundation in 1950 (now known as Schepens Eye Research Institute). Ioannis Pallikaris, a Greek surgeon, performed the first Lasik surgery in 1989.
All this proves how steady research was in the field of the treatment of the human eye. And more remains to be discovered. According to a survey conducted by the National Eye Institute, more than 23 million Americans aged 18 and above have never undergone an eye exam. And the reason is that most think they don’t have an eye problem. This attitude can have consequences in the future. Surveys further suggest that by 2030, approximately 4.2 million people will have glaucoma, 11.5 million will have diabetic retinopathy, and 2.8 million will have age-related macular degeneration.
In support of Healthy Vision Month in May, the American Optometric Association is encouraging everyone to take charge of their eye health and preserve their sight by following some simple tips. Here are just a few:
- Get regular dilated eye examinations from an eye care professional
- Live a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, abstaining from smoking, and manage chronic conditions.
- Know your family history because many eye diseases are hereditary.
- Use protective eyewear to prevent injuries on the job, while playing sports or doing simple chores around the home.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
How to observe Healthy Vision Month
- Share the message on social media. The NEI provides a number of social posts – for both Facebook and Twitter – that can be used by doctors, practices and organizations. Graphics – infographs and infographics – and videos are also available for distribution on the NEI website. Use the hashtag #HealthyVision or #HealthyVisionMonth.
- Use your organization’s communication power – if your practice has a newsletter, blog or website, use pre-drafted email newsletter content (also found on NEI resource page) or drop-in article to spread the message.
- Host an event. Get active about promoting healthy vision in your community. Maybe at you kid’s soccer game, or at the church you go on Sundays.
These messages about the importance of eye health are significant to doctors of optometry and the AOA all year round. Many patient education materials supporting the pillars of Healthy Vision Month—such as booklets on nutrition and the importance of proper sunglasses—are available through the NEI website and the AOA marketplace.
For this Healthy Vision Month, let’s take care of our eyes to make them last a lifetime.
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