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Wellness Wednesday: Protecting your eye health

Posted at 9:09 AM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 11:09:32-04

IDAHO — August is National Eye Exam Month, marking a good time to schedule your annual vision checkup.

Dr. Alan McInnes, an eyelid and facial surgeon at Aesthetic Eye, PC and former Chief of Staff at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, says things are slowly getting back to normal at offices across the country but COVID-19 precautions will still be in effect for many places.

"That's going to be a fluid situation as the COVID situation varies. Right now, we're in the middle of this delta variant that still seems to be on the rise still yet so a lot of folks are getting back to masking and so forth, but with eye exams, we're still kind of maintaining pretty regular schedules and still getting people in pretty readily," he explains.

With the new school year getting underway, it's important to make a vision exam part of the back-to-school process for your family.

"With kids, it's really important to get them screened because there's a condition with children called amblyopia where they might have one eye that's weaker than the other, and that's a real critical thing in terms of development because there's a very narrow window for them to develop good vision," says Dr. McInnes. "Getting them in for screening is important. Let the kids know that, fortunately, most eye specialists don't give shots or anything like that so it's a very pleasant experience."

If parents aren't able to set an appointment for their child, there are ways to check for any vision changes at home. Dr. McInnes says cover one eye at a time with your hand and make sure both eyes see about equally. If one eye isn't seeing as well as the other, Dr. McInnes says it's a fairly urgent thing that needs to be addressed.

As the pandemic continues, Dr. McInnes says there is some good news as COVID-19 doesn't seem to affect eyes as much. Still, you could experience some symptoms should you catch COVID.

"There are some that have been reported and noted. The most common is conjunctivitis or a fairly mild form of pink eye sort of thing. There are also other things that have been reported. Corneal involvement which is the front part of the eye, retinal involvement which is the rear part of the eye, and I've had a patient with chronic scleritis which is inflammation of the white part of the eye."

Dr. McInnes does caution against virtual eye appointments and encourages everyone to try to go in person if possible.

"There are things you can see in person in the actual exam that you just can't see online or via a Zoom meeting or something like that."

If you have more questions about eye care, click here.