5 things you should know about eye health and eye exams

Are you going for your regular, biannual eye exams? Dr. Todd Wilbee has lots of reasons why you should be if you are not.
Todd Wilbee is an optometrist who sees patients in Windsor, Essex and Belle River. (CBC)

Dr. Todd Wilbee is an optometrist who sees patients in Windsor and Essex County — including during the month of May, which is Vision Health Month.

He recently spoke to CBC Radio's Windsor Morning about why it is important to go for eye exams and the kind of health problems that can be detected by professionals like himself.

Q: Why are eye exams so important?

"Eye exams are not only important to test how well you see, but it's amazing the number of people who tell me they can't see well and when you show them how much better they can see, it's quite shocking to those people," said Wilbee.

"The other main reason is we like to check the health of the eye for any eye diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. And we also like to take a look at the healthy eye …[for] any signs of any chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension."

Q: How often should the average adult get an eye exam?

"The average adult should be tested at least once every two years, unless they have any certain chronic conditions — diabetes being one — that needs to be checked annually," Wilbee said.

Q: Why is two years 'the magic number' for these exams?

"A lot of insurance plans cover adults every two years and it's just been kind of accepted that every two years is the recommended frequency," Wilbee said.

Q: Outside of regular examinations, what are some things that people can do to keep their eyes healthy?

Wilbee said a healthy diet and getting the proper amount of exercise are important, but he had other tips to share, too.

"If you're a smoker, stop smoking," Wilbee said. "And I'd say the final thing is limiting the UV exposure to the eye in the form of a good pair of polarized, UV-protected sunglasses, or any coatings in your glasses that block UV light."

Q: Are there certain foods that we can eat that help our eyes?

"All the essential vitamins can help regenerate the cells at the back of the eye and also help reduce eye inflammation," Wilbee said.

With files from the CBC's Peter Duck and CBC Radio's Windsor Morning