This is a sponsored post written in partnership with VSP
“Mom, my eyes hurt when we were taking the test today,” Thomas admitted during our dinner table conversation after a day of computerized standardized testing. Thinking that his eyes were fatigued, we went through strategies to prevent digital eye strain. Yes, he tried to lower the brightness of the screen. Yes, he was taking breaks and looking away to give his eyes a break. Yes, he was sitting a comfortable distance away from the screen.
I attributed his eyes hurting to having to stare intensely at the screen during a two hour testing window, something that his eyes weren’t used to on a regular basis. Even though he’s no stranger to screen time, I know he’s more inclined to look away from the screen when playing computer games and tends to relax and be farther from the screen when watching YouTube videos.
The next day Thomas resumed standardized testing. Even though he told us his eyes felt better, it wasn’t until our visit to our eye doctor that I realized that Thomas’ sore eyes could be because he needed glasses.
These days, screens are everywhere and as much as we may try to regulate screen time at home, exposure to screens at school means their eyes are subjected to the blue light that causes digital eye strain. Because blue light is defocused in front of our retina, our eyes have trouble focusing the light, which makes our eyes work overtime to continually try to focus. When this happens, our kids get sore, tired eyes, headaches, blurred vision, as well as other symptoms.
Besides limiting our kids’ exposure to blue light at home, it’s also important to get an annual eye exam beginning at 6 months old, and every year after that. While schools and pediatrician’s offices often include a regular vision screening, an annual eye exam ensures the health of your eyes as well as overall wellness. It’s not uncommon for your eye doctor to detect signs of chronic conditions through an eye exam, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Even though an annual eye exam may seem like just another expense and thing to add to your growing to-do list, it’s just as important as your child’s annual visits with the pediatrician and visiting the dentist twice a year.
According to new data released by VSP® Vision Care, some cities are better than others about taking care of their eye health. Results from the 2016 Eye Health Index feature the top 10 eye-healthy cities and the 10 least eye-healthy cities in the United States. The rankings were determined by looking at the percentage of VSP members who received an eye exam in 2015 in each city.
The top 10 eye-healthy cities in 2016 are:
- Reno, Nevada
- Boise, Idaho
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Redding, California
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Denver, Colorado
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
The 10 least eye-healthy cities in 2016 are:
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Bakersfield, California
- Merced, California
- Akron, Ohio
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Detroit, Michigan
- Stockton, California
- Santa Rosa, California
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- Salinas, California
While the above cities might be considered the least eye-healthy cities this year, VSP found that youth eye health was trending up in these locations. While Bakersfield, Merced, Stockton, Albuquerque and Salinas are some of the least eye-healthy overall, they rank among the cities where the highest percentage of residents under 17 are receiving eye exams.
This summer I made appointments for both kids to visit my eye doctor, a VSP Premier Eye Doctor, for their first real eye exam.
The exam was much more comprehensive than the screenings that are given at school and the pediatrician’s office.
Both kids had their eyes checked and dilated to examine eye health.
The vision screening that was done determined that a light pair of reading glasses would help prevent eye strain and fatigue when reading and in front of the computer.
Both kids were thrilled to be getting glasses! Unlike the stigma that was attached to wearing glasses when I was a kid, glasses are cool among their peers! Emily and Thomas both loved choosing between the array of stylish frames available from our VSP doctor’s office. We also made sure that the kids’ glasses have Sharper Image TechShield technology, an advanced lens coating that absorbs and reflects blue light associated with eye strain.
I’m glad that both kids are starting the year with healthy eyes and going to school with glasses that are designed to help prevent eye strain and preserve eye health. After all, 80 percent of learning takes place through our eyes!
As you put dates in your calendar for this school year, find a VSP Premier Eye Doctor near you and make a call to schedule an eye exam for your child.
VSP® Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit vision benefits provider in the United States with 77 million members,. For more information about VSP and blue light, combatting eye strain from digital devices, and how to reduce your child’s exposure to blue light:
- Follow@VSPVisonCare on Twitter
- LikeVSP Vision Care on Facebook
- Visit theVSP website
- Read my posts,5 Ways to Help Reduce Your Child’s Exposure to Blue Light from Digital Devices and What Parents Need to Know About Blue Light
This is part of a sponsored post series with VSP. VSP provided comprehensive eye exams plus a pair of glasses for me and two family members as part of our partnership. We chose to get each child a second set of glasses through our health insurance. All opinions are my own.