Your Health, Your Benefits
Vision health and benefits
Our eyes are an important part of our health. In the Unites States, the most prevalent disabling childhood conditions are vision disorders including amblyopia, strabismus and significant refractive errors. Early detection increases the likelihood of effective treatment; however, less than 15 percent of all preschool children receive an eye exam and less than 22 percent of preschool children receive some type of vision screening. American adults aged 40 years and older are at greatest risk for eye diseases. The major eye diseases among people aged 40 years and older are cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. The prevalence of blindness and vision impairment increases rapidly with age among all racial and ethnic groups, especially after age 75.
You can do many things to keep your eye health, and make sure you're seeing your best. Follow these simple guidelines for maintaining healthy eyes from early childhood well into your golden years.
Have an annual comprehensive eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don't realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy, and if you're seeing your best. Many common eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration, often have no warning signs and will only be detected in their early stages by seeing your eye care professional on an annual basis.
As part of your comprehensive eye exam, your eye care professional will conduct a dilated eye exam. During a dilated eye exam, the eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye—the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This process enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes, and examine them for any signs of damage or disease.
Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when working, playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for the activity in which you're engaged. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for glasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
Know your family's eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It's important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since many are hereditary. This information will help to determine if you're at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.
Eat right to protect your sight. You've heard that carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut.
If you are eligible for Carpenters Health and Welfare benefits, remember you and your family do have vision benefits available. There are four common vision tests covered. 1) Visual acuity tests, which are used to see if you need glasses or contact lenses, to monitor an eye problem and to check an eye injury; 2) Refraction is done to find the right prescription for glasses and contact lenses; 3) Visual field tests, which are used to check for vision loss in any area of your range of vision, screen for eye diseases, looks for nerve damage after a stroke, head injury or other problem that reduces blood flow to the brain; and 4) Color vision tests, which are used to check for color blindness.
If you are enrolled in Kaiser or HealthNet, contact your carrier for information on how to take advantage of the coverage. If you are enrolled with the Indemnity Plan, contact the Vision Service Plan (VSP) at (800) 877-7195 or www.vsp.com to find a plan provider and to obtain information about benefits.