May is Healthy Vision Month!

It’s May and healthy vision month is here! Healthy Vision Month has not always been something that was important in my life, but it certainly has become so in recent years.

Why celebrate Healthy Vision Month?

I’m probably not alone in saying that I didn't even know Healthy Vision Month was a thing... until I found out the importance of healthy vision by losing my own. Now, I can’t stop thinking about how I wish I could shout out to the world: Take care of your eyes each and every single day — start NOW!

If you know, you know

Those of us here in the macular degeneration community know the importance of eye care, but many people don’t. We know to go see an optometrist and/or retina specialist annually, at a minimum. We know how to use an Amsler Grid, and are well versed in warning signs that demand immediate attention.

We don’t go outside without sunglasses. We eat things we don’t want just to give our eyes the right nutrients. We choke down vitamins daily, and we read, read, read as much as we can about eye health and macular degeneration.

My lifelong struggle with vision

I’ve never had the privilege of taking a healthy vision for granted. I donned my first pair of coke bottle glasses at the mere age of 5 and was diagnosed with myopic macular degeneration when I was just 26.

Something I recently learned is that not everyone sees an eye doctor annually because they see well without corrective lenses. When they see a retina specialist for an issue that may arise with their vision, they learn about the importance of taking care of their eyes… but they could have been caring for them their whole lives.

Everyone should take eye health seriously

Even those who were blessed with perfect vision and healthy eyes aren’t exempt from a possible future macular degeneration diagnosis. I wish there was some way for me to tell everyone this, but I guess writing articles about it will have to do.

Spreading the word

That’s how I celebrate healthy vision month! Though things like Healthy Vision Month aren't really celebratory affairs, I personally think it’s imperative to use this opportunity to tell as many people as we can (at least our family and friends) the importance of caring for our eyes and keeping them healthy throughout all stages of their lives.

There are many ways to start conversations with our loved ones! In my opinion, the genetic aspect of macular degeneration is an important conversation to have. As well as educating kids about eye-healthy foods and nutrients — followed by showing them how to prepare snacks and meals with their eyes in mind.

Perhaps the most important conversations are with our children and grandchildren, and the sooner the better! For example, my sons both know the age-appropriate ins and outs of macular degeneration. They can also pick out eye-healthy foods at the store.

Having the hard conversations

My family has hard conversations at home about why we don’t leave home without our sunglasses. Or, how we sometimes don’t love blueberries, but they are packed with antioxidants. Our eyes do love antioxidants! So, we blend them into smoothies or dip them in chocolate to make them more enjoyable. Are you able to have these hard conversations at home?

Let’s spread the word!

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