Friday, September 18, 2009

Seeking shade: Sunglasses crucial year-round for eye protection

WATERLOO --- Sunglasses are more than a fashionable accessory.

They can save your eyes from permanent damage.

"We say it's like sunscreen for your eyes," said optician Arlen Happel at Mauer Eye Center.

Too much time outdoors without adequate eye protection could penetrate the retina and lead to cataracts, Macular Degeneration or skin cancer around the eyelids, according to Prevent Blindness America, a national volunteer health and safety organization.

Sunglasses should block ultraviolet radiation found in everyday sunlight. Look for a label that says the lenses offer 100 percent UV protection. Regular prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses can be coated with the clear UV solution, as UV light can otherwise refract through and intensify exposure.

Darker-tinted lenses don't mean more protection; they simply enhance comfort and vision in bright light.

If you're unsure whether your eyewear is protected, ask an eye doctor to test it with a UV detector.

"You don't see a lot of sunglasses that aren't (UV protected) anymore," Happel said.

Tinted clip-on lenses, designed to fit over your regular prescription glasses, offer UV protection and are available at area department stores and optical centers. However, the cheaper versions usually are lower quality and have potential for warping and distortion, said Cindi Nelson, an optician at The EyeCare Associates.

Nelson highly recommends polarized lenses, which protect the eyes and reduce glare while driving.

"You can have a real dark sunglass, but you still find yourself squinting, and that's the glare," she said.

Sunglasses often are mistakenly limited to hot temperatures and beaches but should be worn year-round, including on cloudy days. Snow skiers are as much at risk as boaters for sun-related eye damage.

"The reflection of the sun off the snow is probably equally as bad as that off of water, pavement or a car hood," Happel said.

The more sun your shades filter, the better, Happel said. That's why the latest trend of women wearing oversized lenses is beneficial to their health. Also, a brimmed hat helps block overhead or side light.

Don't forget about the kids. Prevent Blindness America suggests sunglasses that fit well, are impact resistant, don't have lenses that pop out of their frames and are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles.

"People don't think about it, but children are outside a lot," Nelson said.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why You Should Use a Cane

Hello everyone! My name is Tracy and I am currently a member of the Vision Dynamics team. I have Macular Degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa and have had some exciting experiences using a cane. I'd love to share with you some ideas about moving more safely in your neighborhood and community.

First, it is a great way to communicate to others that you have a site problem. It takes the guess work out of the situation Many times when you have low vision you bump into things or may look a little disoriented. The cane puts it out there that you are visually impaired and not drunk.

Many folks think they don’t need it but don’t realize that they usually walk in the same places most of the time and become very familiar in their environment. It is when they are in a new place that they have difficulty. They don’t want to admit it and think that they have fooled everyone. It is hard to let everyone know you have a problem, but by doing so you are becoming part of those who are ambassadors for taking the steps necessary to be independent.

When using a cane you gather so much more information about the surface you are walking on. I do much better along with a cane than I do when someone is leading me. When you put your mobility into someone else’s hands, you are leaving it up to their interpretation.