Saving Your Vision

Your eyes are an important part of your overall health, and making sure they are healthy can keep you safe. Dr. Michaela Hickey, Ophthalmologist with Penn Highlands Eye Center, reminds us that our eyes are senses that we use every day and that life without visions can be devastating. Annual Eye exams and attention to our health is important to prolonging vision”. There are ways to prevent vision loss and protecting your vision is simple. You can begin by scheduling an eye exam and according to the CDC, “you can have a dilated eye exam regularly to check for common eye problems”. Some eye problems can cause vision loss and even blindness. A visit to an eye care professional could determine a cause for decreased vision, eye pain, drainage or redness of the eye, double vision, floaters, circles or halos around light sources, or if you see flashes of light.

Aside from an eye exam, there are other ways you can protect your vision. Begin with knowing your family’s eye health history as some eye conditions are hereditary. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating right will protect your sight; such as leafy greens and fish. Be sure to wear protective eyewear while in the workplace, playing sports, outdoor activities, and home repairs while ensuring to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB radiation. Always wash your hands before taking out your contact lenses and clean your contact lenses with an appropriate contact lens cleaner. Poor health can contribute to vision problems, in fact most people who are blind or have impaired vision admit to having fair or poor overall health. During the pandemic, many people have had to work almost completely from their computers or tablets or even entertain themselves with smartphones increasing screen time. As a result, eyes become increasingly strained and damaged due to constant exposure. It is very important to unplug and look away and focus our eyes on an object roughly 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to help prevent eye strain. This is one helpful technique we can use daily to help minimize stress on our eyes.

Some major causes of vision loss are eye injuries, refractive errors, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Temporary vision loss could simply include migraine and conjunctivitis, or be a more serious health concern. Vision loss impedes the ability to read, drive, prepare meals, watch television, and tend to personal affairs. This can result in social isolation, family stress, and a greater tendency to experience other health conditions. The CDC reports that “people with vision loss are more likely to report depressions, diabetes, hearing impairment, stroke, falls, cognitive decline, and premature death”. Because the number of people becoming older will accelerate, along with the increases in diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, so will vision loss and will continue to increase. Vison loss is listed in the top ten causes of disability in the U.S., but early detection and treatment can prevent most blindness and vision impairment. Often there are no warning signs or symptoms of eye disease. An eye exam will provide early diagnosis and treatment of eye problems, and it is important to seek medical attention if vision loss occurs. Dr. Hickey says that “most eye diseases can be treated with medication or follow up and it is best to see an eye care professional sooner than later”.

Please call 814-371-2390 or visit our Penn Highlands Healthcare website at for information about our Penn Highlands Eye Center locations to schedule your exam.