If your eyes feel healthy, it's easy to assume they are healthy. But, that may not necessarily be the case.
July is Healthy Vision Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to our aging population, the number of blind and visually impaired people in the United States is estimated to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.
Encouraging people to take care of their vision health as part of their overall health and wellness could significantly reduce the number and improve quality of life.
Oftentimes that encouragement starts with your primary care providers. Dr. Steven Richardson, a primary care physician with Optum Primary Care joined us to share Optum's insights on Healthy Vision.
Dr. Richardson says one of the important screens Optum does as part of their Wellness Checks is simple eye exam that takes a high resolution of your eye with a device called RetinaVue.
He explained, "The RetinaVue digital camera is a simple eye exam that takes a high-resolution photograph of your eyes so that a retinal specialist can inspect the image for damage to the retina and blood vessels. This is a non-invasive exam that takes approximately 5 minutes of your time. No eye dilation is necessary, so you won't have to wait to drive, or arrange a ride after your appointment."
Dr. Richardson says this is a diabetic retinal eye exam. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to other serious eye canditions including retinal detachment, and Neovascular glaucoma.
He says in the early stages, there usually aren't symptoms. In later stages, you may see dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs. It's important to get treatment right away.
Anyone who has any kind of diabetes is at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, including people with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
In addition, Dr. Richardson recommends getting regular eye exams, eating a healthy diet including leafy greens, knowing your family's eye health history, wearing sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B radiation and not smoking or quitting.
If you have questions you can call Optum at 1-866-637-5268 or visit their website: Optumcare.com/ut.