On National Doctors' Day, Eye Doctors Urge Eye Health Awareness

National Doctors' Day is Saturday, March 30. Glaucoma Research Foundation joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding the public about the role eye doctors play in protecting vision and fighting blindness.

Vision is our most prized sense, but to maintain healthy vision, we need to care for our eyes and have regular checkups. Most people fear losing their vision more than any other primary sense, and in some surveys the fear of going blind ranks as high as that of heart disease.

Consider your eyes as part of an overall health-maintenance strategy:

  • Exercise - Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Being physically active also helps in maintaining weight in a normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, which is a serious eye complication related to that disease.
  • Don't Smoke - Avoiding smoking or quitting altogether is one of the best investments you can make in your long-term health. Smoking increases the risks of a variety of diseases, including those that affect the eye such as cataracts and diabetic-related conditions.
  • Protect Your Eyes at Work and at Play - Be sure to protect your eyes with proper eye wear; whether you are enjoying a day in the sun, playing sports, or doing household chores, be safe with your eyes at all times.
  • Get Regular Eye Exams - Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40, which is typically the approximate time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Individuals of any age with symptoms or who are at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure should see their eye doctor to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined.
  • Understand the Impact of Other Diseases on the Eyes - The eyes are extraordinarily complex. They contain pigmented cells, a rich network of blood vessels, connective tissue, and the eye's retina is actually a part of the brain. Therefore, many systemic diseases such as diabetes, sleep apnea, various tumors, hypertension, sickle cell disease, lupus, and many others can affect the eyes and threaten vision. Your primary care physician may call upon your eye doctor to detect and manage these problems.

"Maintaining healthy vision should be a top priority for everyone, particularly as they get older," said David W. Parke II, MD, chief executive officer of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Ophthalmologists, who provide medical and surgical care, along with our colleagues who provide non-medical eye care services, encourage everyone to take a proactive role in understanding the importance of good eye health and taking the necessary steps in trying to ensure that they don't miss seeing a single thing that life has to offer."

National Doctors' Day was first observed in 1933 in Georgia, established by the wife of a physician to honor her husband and other doctors. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the observance of National Doctors' Day into law, to "recognize our nation's physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury."

Last reviewed on March 29, 2013

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