Self-care is about more than occasionally treating ourselves to a bubble bath or salted dark chocolate (although we do that too). Self-care means doing intentional things that cultivate our best health and that can range from the joy of a relaxing yoga practice to the discipline of eating less sugar. However it looks for you, there is one thing we've learned: The boundaries of true self-care are far broader than we realized.
Setting our sights on eye health.
Eye health is a perfect example of what we mean. We know that sight is important, but many of us haven't prioritized it as self-care. How do we know that? Because even though 84% of people rate vision as the most important sense, half skip their annual eye exam!
Our eyes play a critical role in our overall health, and in celebration of May as Healthy Vision Month, we're making squinting at street signs a thing of the past. Scheduling an annual comprehensive eye exam with VSP Vision Care is a serious gesture of self-care. You've got your go-to acupuncturist, favorite yoga teacher, and preferred esthetician, but have you befriended an optometrist yet? Let's get (20/20) clear on why that's so important:
1. Eye exams can help detect signs of health conditions, like diabetes.
When we think about the eye doctor, those iconic letter posters come to mind, or we think of getting new stylish glasses. But eye exams are about much more than that: They can help detect serious health conditions, like diabetes. Did you know that 20% of people first learn they have diabetes as a result of a comprehensive eye exam?
The link between diabetes and your eyes doesn't stop there. Diabetes is also the leading cause of vision loss in people 18 to 64 years old, which is why VSP Vision Care has partnered with the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness of the important connection between eye health and diabetes. VSP network eye doctor Nishan Pressley, O.D., explains:
"Diabetes affects blood vessels throughout the body and weakens the vessels in the back of the eyes, which can result in blurry or cloudy vision. These symptoms, and others like dark spots or flashing lights, may be an early warning sign of diabetes. An annual eye exam can help everyone stay on top of their health."
Even the American Diabetes Association recommends getting an annual eye exam because early detection can prevent 95% of vision loss caused by diabetes.
2. Our eye health is directly connected to the immune system.
Autoimmune disorders happen when our immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in our body. Sometimes, autoimmunity affects our vision, and symptoms like eye inflammation could signal to your eye doctor that an autoimmune disease is at play. Just like with diabetes, many early symptoms of serious conditions show up in our eyes—making it all the more important to prioritize that annual appointment for a comprehensive eye exam.
We know, adulthood does not come with a lack of appointments. But VSP Vision Care makes things simple: They're the only national not-for-profit company in vision care, providing high-quality and affordable eye care and eyewear for nearly 90 million members. With a network of 40,000 eye doctors, it's easy to find someone wherever you are.
3. Optometrists have unique insights about our health, like high blood pressure.
Keeping tabs on our blood pressure is health 101. Optometrists have a unique ability to pick up on high blood pressure, as the indicators sometimes show up in our eyes first.
"Stiff and hardened blood vessels in our retina can indicate hypertension, a sign of high blood pressure. The sooner we can become aware of these signs, the better we can prevent greater threats like heart attack and stroke," added Pressley.
So, when the doc shines that bright flashlight in your eye, you'll know what they're checking for.
4. Corrected vision leads to overall well-being.
Remember the part where we were settling for squinting at street signs? That may feel like no big deal, but poor vision has been linked to chronic headaches, and keeping our eyes healthy helps our brain function at its best too. Until you get that new prescription, it's hard to know what you're missing. But corrected vision can be key to reading, writing, and feeling better all-around.
The eye-opening truth.
Vision is about more than being able to admire the skyline with precision—it's central to our quality of life. Perhaps scheduling a comprehensive eye exam with a VSP Vision Care network doctor is your act of self-care for the day—you're only one click away to getting back on top of your eye health, and overall health. They say, "The eyes are the window to the soul." But we say, "The eyes are the window to our wellness."