Glaucoma Awareness Month: Guard Your Vision

Glaucoma. It’s called the “sneak thief of sight” because it can strike without symptoms and lead to permanent blindness.

The good news is that blindness from the disease is preventable. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—a time to understand the disease and take important steps glaucoma-awareness-monthto guard yourself from its serious effects. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, if detected early, it can be treated with medication or surgery to slow down or prevent further vision loss.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), as much as 40 percent of a person’s vision can be lost without noticing—that’s why regular eye exams from a licensed optometrist are key. The GRF says these five tests are part of a thorough comprehensive glaucoma exam:

The inner eye pressure Tonometry
The shape and color of the optic nerve Ophthalmoscopy (dilated eye exam)
The complete field of vision Perimetry (visual field test)
The angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea Gonioscopy
Thickness of the cornea Pachymetry

Anyone can get glaucoma, but there are those who are at higher risk:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
  • People with a family history of glaucoma

You can learn more about glaucoma by visiting the GRF’s website at www.glaucoma.org and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/features/glaucoma-awareness/index.html. To check the license and license status of an optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov.

November is American Diabetes Month

Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes?  Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease.  It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes.  Often there are no outward signs of the disease from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day.  That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.

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This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month: to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.

Diabetes is more than the medications and devices used to manage it.  For many, diabetes dictates how they organize their day, what they eat at every meal, how they choose to be physically active and how they spend their money.  People with diabetes can have health care costs that are 2.3 times higher than someone without diabetes, as type 1 and type 2 require very specific forms of treatment.

ada2Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and there is no known way to prevent it.  Approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which means their body does not produce any insulin.  Insulin is critical in order for the body to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells for energy.  People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly.  Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational ada1diabetes).  Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; others may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses.  Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults.  

Some women develop gestational diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, which requires treatment to protect the health of the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2 percent of pregnant women.

This November, the American Diabetes Association will showcase real-life stories of friends, families and neighbors managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes.  Through the use of social media, everyone is invited and encouraged to use  #ThisIsDiabetes to share their personal stories and to begin a dialogue about what it means to live with diabetes.2-november-is-american-diabetes-month

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) along with the Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Physician Assistant Board, Medical Board of California, Board of Podiatric Medicine, Board of Optometry and the Board of Pharmacy are proud to help promote the 2016 awareness campaign efforts of the American Diabetes Association.

DCA will run a social media campaign in support of the national awareness effort via Facebook, Twitter and its blog, The DCA Page.

To learn more and view #ThisIsDiabetes stories, check out diabetes.org.

Don’t Put Your Eyes at Risk With Cosmetic Contacts for Halloween

shutterstock_contactsIf you are going all-out on a Halloween costume, complete with cosmetic contact lenses that make your eyes extra spooky, be aware of potential hazards from cheap, nonprescription contacts.

Wearing cosmetic contacts purchased at gas stations, flea markets, or costume shops—any place that doesn’t require a prescription—can damage your eyes in several ways, including corneal scratches, infections, and allergic reactions that can cause impaired vision or temporary or permanent loss of sight.

Selling cosmetic contacts without a state license is against the law, and businesses doing so are operating illegally. Out-of-state companies selling contacts on the Internet to residents of California must be licensed and are required to verify your prescription with your eye doctor.

Although the contacts are not intended for vision correction, it is still vital they fit your eyes correctly. If you don’t have a current prescription, you will need to have your eyes examined by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist; if you have a current prescription, your eye care professional can give you a copy.

Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons licensed by DCA’s Medical Board of California. They perform surgeries for problems caused by diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, and also treat eye diseases and prescribe corrective lenses. Optometrists are licensed by DCA’s State Board of Optometry. They conduct examinations for overall health of the eyes, screen for diseases, and also prescribe corrective lenses.

You can check Medical Board licensees’ records online at www.mbc.ca.gov, and State Board of Optometry licensees at www.optometry.ca.gov.

If you do get a prescription for cosmetic contacts, buy them from a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist, or registered dispensing optician, and be sure to follow directions for caring for and wearing them properly.

June: Child Vision Awareness Month and Cataract Awareness Month

shutterstock_365672678This month—and every month—the State Board of Optometry (Board) reminds consumers about the importance of children receiving early eye care, and how critical regular comprehensive eye exams are for Californians of all ages.

Nearly 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems that can cause them to struggle in school. Undetected and untreated vision problems can also leave a child with permanent vision damage later in life. In recognition of Child Vision Awareness Month, the Board encourages parents to make sure their children have their first comprehensive eye examination before entering school.

June is also Cataract Awareness Month, and the Board reminds consumers of all ages that early detection and treatment are critical to maintaining healthy eyesight. Regular visits to an eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) are crucial in detecting eye problems such as cataracts. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world.

A simple eye exam can also reveal other things. It is very common for optometrists and ophthalmologists to discover dozens of other health problems including arthritis, cancer, and hypertension during regular eye exams.

Visit the Board’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov to learn more about comprehensive eye exams and the value of early eye care.

 

 

Children’s Vision Coalition: Comprehensive Eye Exam Requirement for School-Age Kids

shutterstock_355260812One in four school-age children suffers from vision problems. Although vision screenings done at schools help identify those kids, the screenings miss one in three with significant vision and eye health problems, according to the National Commission on Vision and Health. Also, 40 percent of the kids identified with vision problems do not receive follow-up care.

In an effort to ensure children receive appropriate eye care, the Board of Optometry (Board) has sponsored Senate Bill 402. If approved, the bill will require students entering elementary school to get a comprehensive eye examination by a physician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist. The bill passed both the Senate Education and Health committees, but was placed in suspense in appropriations.

To develop strong legislation for the next legislative session, the Board delegated a workgroup that is forming the Children’s Vision Coalition. The Coalition will work over the next year to educate the public, the Legislature, and stakeholders on the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for children.

According to the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “Because a child’s visual system is growing and developing, especially during the 5–6 years of life, glasses may play an important role in ensuring normal development of vision.” Regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams help ensure children maintain good vision and healthy eyes for success in school and other activities.

For more information about SB 402 (Mitchell), click on http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB402. To learn more about the Board, visit www.optometry.ca.gov.

Online Refractive Tests: Not the Same as Comprehensive Eye Exams

At first it sounds convenient and cost-effective—go online, get your eyes tested, and in exchange for a fee, you receive a prescription. You take that prescription wherever you want and get your glasses or contacts. No appointments, no fuss. Over and done.shutterstock_262231775

However, be aware that perfect vision doesn’t necessarily mean healthy eyes. Substituting an online refractive test for a comprehensive eye exam can mean key issues could be missed and you could be putting your eye health—and possibly your overall health—at serious risk.

An online refractive test is a service provided through a website. They are vision tests used to determine the appropriate lens power necessary to correct your vision. You take a brief test online for a fee, then receive a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses from a California-licensed ophthalmologist.

The California State Board of Optometry (Board) is one of the many healthcare-related boards that operate under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Board, which  licenses and regulates optometrists and the optometry profession, believes that routine, comprehensive eye exams are crucial. Comprehensive eye exams can reveal serious health issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears and scarring, eye infections, and dry eye syndrome—conditions that cannot be checked or detected by an online refractive exam.

For more information, contact the Board of Optometry by phone at (916) 575-7170 or toll-free at (866) 585-2666, or visit the Board’s website, www.optometry.ca.gov.

 

 

Board of Optometry Wants You!

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The California Board of Optometry is recruiting Subject Matter Experts to assist in the Board’s Law Exam Development Workshops. The next workshop is scheduled for November 2, 2015.

Contribute to the profession of optometry by becoming a Subject Matter Expert and assisting the Board in upcoming workshops. Experts have the opportunity to meet and work with other licensed optometrists from around the State on the development, review, and grading of the California Law and Regulation Examination (CLRE). Many experts find the experience very rewarding and choose to return year after year.

For more information and to register, click here or visit the Board of Optometry’s Web site.