Good vision is important to nearly everything you do, from waking until closing your eyes to sleep. Most all we experience in life comes to us through our sight. You can preserve and protect your vision with regular eye exams by an eye care professional and reduce your chance of vision loss from systemic and eye diseases.

We know that 80 percent of a child’s learning requires good vision. An eye exam is the only way to ensure your child is seeing clearly and comfortably to learn and succeed in school. It’s also the only way to be sure kids are seeing their best for sports and other activities, too.

Vision screenings are no substitute for a professional eye exam. Parents may believe their child sees just fine because she passed a school vision screening. Or adults may think they see perfectly when they pass a vision screening at the DMV. Often these assumptions are incorrect. Vision screenings usually only identify vision issues related to specific visual tasks, such as seeing the classroom board clearly or recognizing road signs when driving. Only a comprehensive eye exam can ensure your vision is as clear and comfortable as possible, and that you're not developing serious eye diseases that don’t have obvious symptoms, like glaucoma or even eye cancer.

The eyes are the windows to the body. Eye exams can detect many serious health problems. Think of a visit to your eye doctor as “preventative maintenance” for your body as well as for your eyes. As your eyes are the only place in your body where blood vessels can be viewed in their natural state, your eye doctor can spot many systemic health conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver disease, and brain tumors as well as eye conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other diseases.

Annual eye exams are especially important for anyone with diabetes or who might be at risk for the disease. due to obesity, family history, etc. More than 30 million Americans with diabetes, plus another 84 million with prediabetes, are at risk of developing diabetic eye disease, the leading cause of blindness among adults. In its early stages, diabetic eye disease has no symptoms. Only a comprehensive eye exam can detect early signs of disease so treatment can help prevent vision loss.

Good vision contributes to improved school achievement and learning, better driving skills, increased performance on the job, enhanced athletic ability, and a better quality of life. Even if you think you have perfect vision, an annual eye exam can be one of the best things you can do to protect the overall health and wellness of you and your loved ones. Preserve and protect your vision. Don't put if off any longer — contact an eye care professional today to schedule eye exams for yourself and those you love.

Horizon EyeCare Professionals is a member of Vision Source, a network of independent eye doctors. With access to the knowledge and resources of more than 3,300 locally owned practices, they are dedicated to your eye health and vision, and your care is based solely upon what is best for your eye health and vision. For more information go to www.visionsource.com or www.eyecareowatonna.com\

Dr. Beth Gilthvedt is optometrist with Horizon EyeCare Professionals, 2560 Harvest Lane NW, Owatonna.

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