Keeping an eye on eye health

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska Summer in the Interior is known for longer days filled with sunshine, pollen, and smoke from wildfires. Although these conditions may be unique to summer, maintaining eye health is important year round. Jeremy Fulk is an optometrist at the Eye Clinic of Fairbanks and he spoke about early eye exams and preventive measures for people to take.

Being a primary care provider for the eyes, Fulk provides basic and comprehensive eye exams and helps patients find glasses and contact lens that fit their prescriptions

"We also treat eye diseases, various things like glaucoma, infections, and trauma. We are really just a staple for your first contact for your eye," said Fulk

Remembering to protect your eyes from the sun UV rays and wearing protective eye wear when working around machinery is always important.

“UV protection, getting regular eye exams early on is very important. Wearing eye protection when you are doing things that are dangerous. Like grinding metal, or wood working,” he said.

But the same protections are cautioned for those who work and play indoors. He said there are risks of eye related issues that could be related to screens we use every day.

"A lot of our dry eyes are due to what we do with our eyes. We stare at a lot of things, computer, phones, the tv and that increases your dry eye symptoms, so taking a break, a break from the computer is always a good idea," said Fulk.

He said most physicians like to call it, “the 20 minute rule.”

“Get up from the computer, walk around, and look away from the computer out the window and not at the phone. And kind of blink your eyes maybe use a teardrop and go back to your activities,” Said Fulk

Fulk went on to talk about the importance of yearly eye exams. He says a lot of issues could be prevented with annual or early checkups.

"I do want to emphasize that it’s not talked about enough about early eye exams. You know the kids eye exams even if you think, well they can't tell us what they are seeing we'll do that when they're older, they can't tell us if it is blurry or not, or the teachers can find it. Which they do a great job here in town but it’s good to kind of get them in early to make sure because there are something's that are a lot easier to treat that could cause issues if not caught early," he said.

According to the National Eye Institute, In the U.S alone, 61 million adults are at risk for vision loss, and only half of those adults visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. The recommended age for a first eye exam is 6 months. Recommended by the Optometric Association of the United States. Fulk says, if a child is not able to make it to the 6 month exam her recommends bringing in children in for a three year exam or before school.