Warning: prepare for plenty of eye-related puns in this post about vision benefits. Consider this an eye-opening reminder to check your benefit details before the end of the year. Use those dollars to pay for a much-needed eye exam. Purchase that annual supply of contact lenses or add a stylish new pair of glasses to your wardrobe. You’ll likely need to use your benefits before 2020 is over – and that means making an appointment now.
When you make that appointment, you’ll likely encounter a choice that is a relatively new option as part of the annual exam: a no-dilation glaucoma test. That’s right: no drops needed! No waiting for the dilation to decrease before you drive home from the optometrist; no waiting extra time for the drops to take effect before an exam can occur.
Introducing the Optomap, a painless diagnostic protocol that takes a picture of the retina. Contact your carrier before the visit to check if insurance covers this service; if not, the added cost is usually small.
Why consider the Optomap instead of a standard dilation exam?
Dilation allows the doctor to view a select spot of the retina; Optomap reveals the majority of the retina. The digital capture is painless and non-invasive; it also allows for an instant reveal of the image. That means you and your doctor can go over the results immediately. While it is a personal decision whether or not to ‘opt’ for the Optomap, certain elements should be considered before making the selection.
Benefits of the Optomap include:
- Time savings – From start to finish, the dilation process is about 45 minutes.
- Comparison ability – Because the Optomap generates a comprehensive digital picture of the retina, that picture can be compared to others in subsequent years to monitor any changes in eye health.
- No sensitivity issues – That uncomfortable numb feeling caused by dilation is not an issue with Optomap, which requires no desensitization. Note: Optomap is also an ideal alternative to dilation for those who experience a vasovagal episode as a result of the numbing agent. (These select few faint or feel uncomfortably woozy after the eye drops are inserted).
- More comprehensive view of retina – The classic dilation test reveals a sliver of the retina, while the Optomap engages ultra-widefield retinal imaging to showcase a much wider surface area.
How to Decide Whether or Not Dilation or the Optomap is Right for You
Three words are sufficient here: Ask your doctor.
This has been a tough year all around; at the very least, you can begin 2021 by seeing clearly, no matter which type of test you select. In addition to ensuring your vision benefits do not expire, it’s important to be aware of ‘pandemic eye strain.’ Yes, as if COVID-19 didn’t give us enough to worry about, it’s doing a number to our eyes. The good news is that your peepers don’t need a mask in order to find protection. Lessen eye strain caused from all that remote work.
COVID-19 is Leading to Eye Strain. Here’s What to Do.
1. Tip One: Realize that the eyes aren’t meant to stare at a computer screen for hours on end.
- Most Americans (70%, as reported by The Vision Council) don’t believe they’re susceptible to eye strain. News flash: They’re wrong. With so many of us sitting in front of dimly lit screens for 4-6+ hours each day, eye strain is inevitable.
2. Tip Two: Identify whether you are experiencing eye strain.
- Are your eyes sore or tired? Burning? Those who have dry eyes, blurred vision, increased light sensitivity and/or difficult focusing are prime eye strain candidates.
3. Tip Three: Make a plan to lessen the strain.
- Cut down on the screens. This can be easier said than done; so many adults are working remotely during these pandemic times, and children engaged in digital learning find themselves glued to the screen for hours on end. Even those heavy screen users can employ simple strategies to lessen the strain.
There are many ways to combat the effects of screen time on your eyes. They include the following practices:
- Decreasing the glare – How bright is that monitor? Go darker. Head to settings and turn the monitor brightness factor down.
- Dimming that lighting – Glare is a prime cause of eye strain, so consider a little ‘mood lighting’ when you’re working on a screen. It’s nice to have natural light filtering through the home, but consider moving away from a window. Your eyes may thank you for it. An anti-glare filter for the monitor is a solid idea as well.
- Getting comfortable – How are you, ergonomically? The screen should be in front of the face just below the eyes. Place the computer about an arm’s length away.
- Making those letters huge – Increasing font size will lessen your squint. We’re not talking size 36 times new roman, but a little increase can make a huge difference!
- Purchasing stylish computer glasses – You can choose ugly ones, but why? There are so many stylish, affordable glasses available today that filter out the blue light that’s so damaging to the peepers.
- Don’t forget to blink – Really. We know you’re focused on that report, but blinking is an absolute necessity.
- Live by the 20-20-20 rule – Every 20 minutes, glance away from your screen at something else for at least 20 seconds. Those of us working from home as our children learn remotely at home are likely having no problems with this one. The rest of us may need to consciously remember to do it.
- Read a physical (paper) book – It had to be included in the list. After all, going from computer work all day to e-reader at night is not going to help reduce eye strain.
As with any vision problems, consult your doctor if you have any concerns at all. Your sight is too important and valuable to gamble with. Abide by the suggestions listed above and read this Healthline article for even more options.
Here’s to better eye health and an overall better outlook for 2021! For more information about vision benefits and wellness benefits in general, contact W3 Wellness Coordinator Trish Blocker at firstname.lastname@example.org.