Protect Your Vision
While people are staying home during the pandemic, many are skipping important doctor visits, including eye exams. The good news is you may be able to get the eye care you need without an office visit.
About 93 million adults in the United States are at risk for vision loss. The COVID-19 pandemic may cause that number to increase because many Americans are delaying or going without care to avoid risk of exposure to the virus. Visits to the eye doctor have dropped by an estimated 80% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, staying home doesn’t mean your vision and eye health care has to suffer. Learn more about how you can protect your vision at home.
Receiving the Eye Care You Need
You may be able to use health care services such as telemedicine to get the care you need while social distancing. All you need is a phone or computer with an Internet connection to continue your medical care.
Before the pandemic, about 30% of eye care providers offered telemedicine services. Since the pandemic began, that number has increased to almost 90%. Talk with your eye doctor to see if this is the right choice for you.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes caused when high blood sugar damages blood vessels in the retina.
Protecting Your Vision and Staying Safe
If you have an eye disease, your eye doctor may be able to monitor it without an office visit. They can provide remote care with an alternate care site where your testing can be done from a safe location such as your primary care provider or a Federally Qualified Health Center. Then your results are transferred directly to your eye doctor. Remember to continue to take any medicine or eye drops as prescribed and monitor any changes in your vision.
Your eye doctor may also provide other nonemergency services remotely, such as diagnosing and treating eye infections, prescribing or changing medicines, and rescheduling surgery (depending on the severity of your eye disease).
Not all vision problems can be managed using telemedicine alone. Talk to your eye doctor to find out the best plan for your eye care needs. If your eye care requires an in-person office visit, you can help protect yourself and others from exposure to the virus by following CDC recommendations.
Other Ways You Can Protect Your Vision at Home
Even if you don’t need an eye exam right now, you can take care of your vision while at home in other ways.
- Eat a vision-healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet rich in leafy greens, fruits, and fish can help protect your vision.
- Get regular physical activity. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. Doing housework, yard work, and even dancing can be a part of your at-home physical activity routine.
- Manage stress. Managing stress can lower your risk for conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. These chronic conditions can put you at higher risk for vision loss.
- Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking increases your risk of developing certain eye diseases and can make diabetic eye disease more severe—which can result in vision loss.
- Manage your chronic conditions. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s important to continue the healthy lifestyle habits your doctor recommends and take your medicines as prescribed. Both can help you manage your condition and prevent or reduce other complications.