Even if you never wore glasses as a child or young adult, it’s important to be aware of changes in your vision once you reach age 40. According to the American Optometric Association, there are five common vision changes you may experience in middle age, including:
- Changes in color perception: The lens within your eye, which is normally clear, may start to discolor and make it difficult for you to differentiate between shades of colors.
- Problems with glare: Driving may become more difficult as glare from headlights or the sun becomes more noticeable. This increase in glare is a result of light being scattered on the retina instead of being properly focused.
- Reduced tears: Tear glands tend to produce fewer tears as you age. Post-menopausal women may notice that their eyes are especially dry and should talk to their True Dental Discounts optometrist about solutions like medicated eye drops.
- Needing more light: You may have noticed it is not as easy to read in dim lighting as it once was. Solve this issue by using bright lamps while reading or working.
- Difficulty reading or working up close: The lens in the eye starts to become more flexible as you age, making it harder for your eyes to focus on nearby objects. This can cause books or documents to appear blurry at close distances, so ask your vision plan doctor about getting reading glasses as well as an overall vision exam.
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When allergy season rolls around, many people begin to suffer from dry, irritated eyes. One simple solution to this problem is to alter the humidity levels in your home. According to The Dry Eye Company, patients with chronic dry eyes can benefit from purchasing a humidifier. Humidifiers work by releasing moisture into the air and can be used in any enclosed room to help control humidity levels. Watch out, though: Too much humidity can increase the amount of dust and mold in a room, so be sure to keep your levels around 40 to 50 percent.
Any lower than approximately 30 percent, and people will likely notice a change in their eyes. Many people suffer from dry eyes year-round, so be sure to ask your eye doctor about any irritation you experience in your eyes. He or she can help diagnose the cause and talk to you about potential solutions, such as a humidifier.
Nearly all small children are prescribed liquid medication until they are old enough to swallow capsules. As a result, it’s important that adults be informed about the proper way to dispense the medication and protect their children’s health. According to the FDA, some of the most common types of dosing instruments include:
- Dosage cups: These cups are designed for children who are old enough to drink from a cup without spilling. Adults should be sure to look carefully at the small numbers printed on the side of the cup to determine the correct fill level. Medicine should then be poured to that exact level when the cup is sitting on a flat surface.
- Droppers: These are geared toward children who cannot drink from a cup, and require the adult to squeeze the proper amount of medication into the child’s mouth. Like the dosage cups, medicine must be brought to the exact line on the side of the dropper that was recommended by a doctor. Adults should squeeze the liquid quickly out of the dropper so it cannot fall on the floor before it gets into the child’s mouth.
- Cylindrical dosage spoons: These spoons look like a large straw with a spoon at one end and are used for children who can drink from a cup, but are likely to spill. In this case, adults should again fill the liquid to the appropriate marked line and be sure it is even at eye level. Children then drink the medicine from the spoon.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your child’s prescription medication. It’s important to be educated so you can protect the health of your young child.
Patients who get their eyes checked are generally asked to perform a few different vision tests. These tests allow an eye doctor to examine the functioning of a person’s eyes and determine whether further corrective action needs to be taken. One such test is the visual acuity test. This common test measures the details a person can see at both near and far distances. Usually, a patient is asked to read a series of letters or numbers in varying sizes. Each eye is tested individually so the doctor can note any differences or weaknesses. Another common test is the visual field test, in which patients’ eyes are also tested individually. In this test, the person is instructed to look forward while indicating whether they can perceive lights or objects in their peripheral vision.
The visual field test is helpful because it maps a person’s entire field of vision and can detect conditions like glaucoma. A third common test is known as refraction. This test measures refractive error and can indicate a person’s need for corrective lenses. Refraction is helpful for identifying both farsightedness and nearsightedness. Finally, eye doctors typically conduct a color vision test to measure a person’s ability to distinguish colors. This test can detect variations of color blindness and is usually performed by symbols made up of colored dot patterns. People who have trouble distinguishing certain colors will not be able to perceive the imbedded symbols, thereby indicating possible color blindness.
Even the simplest action, like walking, is affected by a person’s sense of balance. This balance comes from a complex combination involving the visual system and kinesthetic senses, along with one other important area: the inner ear. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, without those three parts working in concert, a person becomes dizzy and loses their sense of balance. The inner ear plays a critical role in balance, and any disturbances, such as calcium deposits, can affect a person’s balance.
Some other causes of dizziness include Meniere’s Disease, certain drugs, and head trauma. In order to determine what is causing a person to lose their balance, a doctor may conduct a balance assessment to monitor any changes and detect the site of the problem. Symptoms of balance issues include having rapid, involuntary eye movements; vertigo and dizziness; and difficulty or awkward walking/running. If you suspect you may have problems with your balance, talk to your doctor about the health of your inner ear. He or she can assess your condition and determine the existence of any abnormalities.
People aren’t the only ones with interesting hearing mechanisms and facts. Check out these random tidbits about animal hearing from the Better Hearing Institute, Teachers Domain, and the University of Washington:
- Snakes do not have ears, but their tongues are sensitive to sound vibrations.
- Owls distinguish sound directions partly by measuring the difference in time it takes the sound to reach each ear. This difference is typically less than 200 millionths of a second!
- Cicadas have hearing organs in their stomachs
- Crickets have hearing organs in their knees; sound waves cause a thin membrane on the cricket’s legs to vibrate
- It is thought that owls can create an image of the world around them based only on sound, much like humans do with their eyes
- Although fish do not have ears, they can hear pressure changes through ridges on their bodies
- Dolphins can hear frequencies up to at least 100,000 Hz. Compare this to a dog’s ability to hear up to 40,000 Hz and a person’s 20,000 Hz
- During World War I, the military kept parrots on France’s Eiffel Tower because their extra-sensitive hearing allowed them to warn of incoming enemy aircraft before any person could hear it
- All mammals have external ears, but many can move them to help pinpoint the direction of sounds. Some animals, like elephants, can even use their ears to stay cool by waving them like fans. And you thought you could twitch your ears!
Certain professions may be more hazardous to your vision health than others. To help protect people involved in these environments, particularly industry jobs, the American Optometric Association released a statement in 1998 to provoke questions about vision hazards at work. The Association mandates that contact lenses themselves cannot and should not be used as protective eyewear. Other types of protection must be used (like goggles) to protect the eyes, whether a person wears contacts or not. In determining whether contact lenses present a risk in the workplace, the Association advises that people ask questions like, “Is the risk different for various contact lens materials and designs?” and “Do contact lenses decrease the efficacy of other safety strategies?”
Doctors who prescribe contact lenses to patients involved in hazardous fields should also keep in mind certain factors, the Association says. For instance, a doctor should take into account what hygiene facilities are available, what raw materials are involved, whether protective equipment is provided and used, and what kinds of toxic chemicals/agents could be encountered on the job. In all, the Association found that “contact lenses may be worn safely under a variety of environmental situations including those which, from a superficial evaluation, might appear hazardous.” Also, because there is no evidence to suggest that contact lenses negate the protection of safety equipment, the Association recommends that there be no ban on contact lenses in the workplace. This means you can feel confident about wearing your contact lenses to work, but be sensible when in hazardous environments, and never think of your contacts as protective eyewear.
If you’ve ever seen an X-ray photo of your mouth, you’ve probably noticed that your teeth appear much lighter than the rest of the surfaces. This is because X-rays cannot penetrate hard surfaces like teeth as easily as they can gums and tissue. But why is it so important to get these high-tech photos of your mouth? The main reason is because many oral health problems cannot easily be detected during a normal examination. It’s possible for a patient to have spots of decay that are not visible to the dentist. By looking at an X-ray, dentists can look for signs of decay between teeth, gum disease, bone infections, and many other serious conditions, including hidden tumors.
The American Dental Association suggests that children are especially good candidates for X-rays, as their teeth are still developing and are more prone to tooth decay. Another benefit of X-rays is that patients can save time and money by catching any hidden problems early. X-rays may even help someone avoid having to undergo the complicated procedures that advanced-stage conditions often require. Talk to your dentist about your X-ray schedule and ask if you (or your children) are due for another screening. A little extra time in the chair at your next visit could pay off dramatically down the road.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, one-third of hearing loss is preventable. So what measures can you take to protect your own hearing? For starters, it’s important to limit the amount of time you spend doing noisy activities. This seems obvious, but many people don’t realize that repeated exposures to loud noises can add up to cause damage later. Second, if you must participate in a noisy activity (such as mowing the lawn), wear proper protection. By wearing ear plugs or muffs, people can limit the amount of noise that enters the ear canal. These devices can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or a basic drug store. Third, turn down the noise that you can control. It’s easy to leave the TV on too loud or be tempted to crank up the stereo in the car, but even these small choices can have negative consequences on your hearing. Instead, make a conscious effort to keep the volume down low when you’re watching TV and listening to the radio.
This goes for all handheld devices, as well. Personal music players with ear bud-style headphones allow the music to have direct access to your ear canal, so listeners must use extra caution when using these types of players. Finally, the Better Hearing Institute recommends that patients ask their doctor about possible negative side effects of their medications. Some medicines can actually be dangerous to a person’s hearing, so do some research and talk to your doctor about your concerns. When it comes to hearing, prevention is the key to preservation.