A surprising 60 percent of parents don’t feel an eye exam is an essential part of a child’s healthy checkup schedule. But experts recommend that children should have three eye exams by the age of 6. With 80 percent of blindness cases being avoidable, either resulting from conditions that are preventable or treatable, regular eye exams are crucial to eye health.

In conjunction with Think About Your Eyes, a national public awareness initiative, I’m bringing attention to the importance of vision health and catching vision issues early. Here are some important tips for eye health on World Sight Day (October 11).

  1. Make a visit to the eye doctor
    part of your annual health routine.

World Sight Day is a great reminder that our sight is truly a gift and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Just like you regularly go to the doctor or see your dentist, getting an annual comprehensive eye exam should be a priority. Visit thinkaboutyoureyes.com to find a doctor near you.

A visit to the optometrist for a comprehensive exam tests more than just eyesight—it tests the overall health of the eye. In addition to determining whether you need glasses or contacts, eye doctors will check for eye diseases and other problems that could lead to vision loss. Further, eye doctors can detect early signs of some systemic conditions and diseases by looking at your eye’s blood vessels, retina, etc. They may be able to tell you if you are developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other problems like diabetes.

  1. In addition to scheduling an
    annual comprehensive eye exam, there are easy ways to protect vision
    throughout your life by maintaining a healthy diet and combating digital
    eye strain.

Many vitamins and nutrients can improve and maintain vision health, specifically vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can be found in a variety of foods, from fish to nuts to colorful vegetables to oranges, all of which have health benefits for the whole body too.

More and more, optometrists are seeing patients suffering the effects of society’s use of smartphones, tablets, and computers, known as digital eye strain. Digital eye strain brings many people to the eye doctor for the first time, wondering if they need glasses after suffering blurry vision, headaches, and other vision changes after a day of staring at a computer screen. The long-term effect of this screen time on vision is not yet known, but taking regular breaks from the screen can go a long way in alleviating these symptoms.

  1. Take steps on your own to
    counterbalance the onset of common vision issues like myopia (or
    nearsightedness), such as visiting the eye doctor annually, having an
    up-to-date Rx, and spending time outdoors and away from digital screens
    for at least 2 hours a day.

More than half the world will be nearsighted, or myopic, by 2050. It’s the most common vis. ion problem in children, and it puts their eyes at risk for serious vision threatening conditions.

  1. Know that, if needed, there are
    options available to you when it comes to vision correction.

Consulting with your eye care professional for a solution for you or your child is important. Proper refractive correction could improve vision for over 11 million Americans, 12 years and older.

  1. Don’t wait, schedule an annual
    comprehensive eye exam today.

Optometrists suggest infants have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age, and children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6.

Your eyes are constantly changing, like any other part of your body. Because vision may change frequently during school years, annual comprehensive eye exams are important at all ages.