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Keeping Your Eyes In Shape

Speaking of the eye doctor, when’s the last time you visited one?  If it’s been a while, it’s probably a good idea to make an appointment with an optometrist.  Let’s face it.  You want to improve your reading speed, don’t you?  Well guess what?  You need your eyes to make that happen.  If your eyes aren’t in the best shape they can be, your reading speed won’t be as fast as it can be, either.

I know most of you probably dislike going to the doctor.  But the eye doctor is different.  First of all, you get to keep your clothes on.  And second, you don’t have to step on the scale!

All you do is sit back and let the technicians and the eye doctor use a bunch of fancy equipment to look at and test your eyes.  During an exam, which generally lasts between 30 and 90 minutes, you can expect to discuss your eye and general health history with your doctor.  You’ll also have your eyes checked for visual acuity which basically involves seeing how far down the eye chart you can read.  No doubt you’ve done that before.

The eye doctor will continue the exam by looking at your eyes to see how white they are and whether he notices any irregularities in your eyelids and other areas on or surrounding your eyes.  He’ll test the alignment and refraction of your eyes, how your pupils respond, and he’ll also test for glaucoma.  He’ll also look closely at your retina and optic nerves.

When the doctor’s all done, he’ll be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and suggest treatment options should any eye issues be uncovered.

Don’t be surprised to hear your doctor talk about the importance of eating a nutritionally-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting bad habits like smoking.  Like it or not, good vision depends on all this.

A lot of my students wonder how often they should visit the eye doctor.  Here’s what the American Optometric Association recommends:

If you’re between the ages of 19 and 40, chances are your eyes are still healthy and you probably enjoy good vision.  The biggest eye problems this age group experiences are those associated with injury, visual stress and exposure to the sun.  As long as you take steps to avoid these problems, your vision should remain problem-free.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip the exams.  People in this age group should schedule an eye exam at least every two years.  Doing so is the best and easiest way to ensure continued eye health and detect eye problems early on when they’re still easily treatable.

Of course, if you have a family history of eye problems or if problems like high blood pressure and diabetes run in your family, you may need more frequent exams.  That’s something you can talk about with your eye doctor.

If you’re between the ages of 41 and 60, development of vision problems is practically unavoidable.  The most common is a diminished ability to clearly see up close, which is what you do when you read.  This diminished ability will affect your ability to read printed material as well as information on your computer monitor.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that inevitably develops with age and usually continues to worsen.  The good news is, it’s easily treatable with prescriptive lenses.

Other normal problems you might begin experiencing if you’re part of this age group include a need for brighter light to help you see, the appearance of more glare, color perception changes, and diminished tear production.

Again the recommendation for this age group is an eye examination every two years.  During your examinations, your eye doctor will be on the lookout for signs of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and vision problems associated with prescription medications and other health issues from which you may suffer or that run in your family.  If your job is visually demanding, let your eye doctor know so he can look for any signs that your work may be affecting your vision.

If you’re over 60, annual eye examinations are recommended.  From age 60 on, there’s an increased risk of developing certain vision disorders including Age Related Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataracts, dry eye and Retinal detachment.  Frequent examinations will detect these types of problems more easily than you’ll be able to.

Okay, that’s enough about eye examinations.  I realize my talk about eye examinations got us off the topic of ergonomics, but I had to bring it up.  The truth is, it doesn’t even make sense to attempt speed reading if your eyes aren’t sharp and focused.  I hope you got my message and that you schedule an eye examination – if you need one – straight away.

You’ll know you need one if you haven’t had one in a while.  You also should schedule one if words look fuzzy or blurry especially those close up, if your vision is faint or you have double vision, your eyes seem excessively dry or if you’ve reached middle age.

Having a professional look at your eyes is the only way you can be sure your eyes are ready for the challenge of helping your reading speed soar!

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