March is Save Your Vision Month!

Happy Save Your Vision Month everyone!  Before I begin going over what this month means for optometry, a few congratulations need to be given after this year’s California Optometric Association (COA) House of Delegates.  I would like to congratulate our own Dr. Amanda Dexter and Dr. Jason Tu for their nominations and acceptance of trustee positions on the COA Board of Trustees!  Having two optometrists from San Diego means we are incredibly well represented on the state level.  Very well done!  Congratulations also to Dr. Ketan Bakriwala for winning young optometrist of the year!  I am also happy to report the San Diego County Optometric Society (SDCOS) was awarded Project of the Year, recognizing our exceptional work for the Diabetes Walk.  Thank you to everyone who contributed time and effort to this project.  Special congratulations are due to Dr. Dave Sherman and Craig Hansen who co-host this effort every year.  Dr. Ed Hernandez also announced his continuing plans to run for Lieutenant Governor this year.  We need to give him all our support to help ensure optometry’s representation at the capitol!

March launches optometry’s national campaign to remind Americans of the importance of eye health and regular, comprehensive eye exams.  Known as Save Your Vision Month, this national health observance has been a staple in the profession for nearly 90 years.  The national awareness campaign was born out of a measure called Eyesight Conservation Week in 1924 and later revised to Save Your Vision Week in 1927. Proclaimed a national health observance week by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1963, Save Your Vision Week was changed to Save Your Vision Month by an American Optometric Association’s (AOA) House of Delegates resolution in 2005.

The 2016 Save Your Vision Month campaign focuses on working to educate both employers and employees about how to avoid digital eye strain in the workplace.  According to the AOA 2015 American Eye-Q survey, 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain.  As optometrists, we need to educate our patients about the symptoms of digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.  These include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and shoulder pain.  The AOA recommends five tips that can be easily implemented in most office spaces to help fight this epidemic:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule:  Take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance:  The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and your back supported by your chair.  Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
  • View from a different angle:  Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
  • Decrease glare:  While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter.  These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Blink often:  Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently.

Additional Findings on technology and eye health from the AOA Eye-Q Survey include:

  • 59 percent of those surveyed responded that desktop computers and laptops were the devices that bothered them most.  Mobile phones were second at 26 percent, followed by tablets at 8 percent.
  • 61 percent of people surveyed admit to using multiple digital devices at that same time.
  • 56 percent responded that their primary use for digital devices is entertainment (reading, watching movies or shows, video games).
  • 76 percent of people know that blue light from digital devices affects vision.

I would encourage our society’s optometrists to maximize on the exposure of this national campaign to reinforce the OD’s distinction as primary eye care doctors.  You can capitalize on the growing conversation in consumer media by factoring Save Your Vision Month into your practice’s marketing strategy.  Materials such as customizable articles, press releases, and social media content are available on AOA’s website.

The next COA event will be Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 20th.  I encourage everyone to join us on this day trip to the capitol.  There are important discussions that need to take place with our legislators regarding bills that could potentially threaten our profession, as well as bills that could allow the expansion of our scope of practice. Please let me know if you are interested, every doctor attending makes us stronger!