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I can see clearly now, can you

By Shambreki√° Wise

Hey Y’all. I can’t believe it, but summer is starting to come to an end, vacations are wrapping up and kids are getting ready to head back to class. For my little one, we must not only get her a wellness check, but she also has to visit the optometrist. That got me to thinking if it was time for me to go back and with it being National Eye Exam Month, it’s probably not a bad time to go. 

This is a crucial time for individuals, especially those affected by multiple sclerosis, to take preventative measures and protect their precious sight. As we age, our eyesight can become susceptible to various conditions, making regular eye exams for everyone an essential aspect of our health and well-being. Add a side of MS, and the risks of vision issues can increase dramatically. So, what can you do? 

Glad you asked! National Eye Exam Month raises awareness about the importance of comprehensive eye examinations, so if you haven’t already done so, you can schedule your appointment today. By taking this healthy step forward, you can be the first line of defense for your eyes!

Understanding MS and vision

MS is a complex autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, leading to a wide range of symptoms, including vision problems. For many MS patients, visual disturbances are among the earliest signs of the disease and can significantly affect their daily lives. Optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve, is a common vision-related symptom of MS, causing blurred vision, double vision, or even temporary blindness.

Additionally, MS can lead to other visual issues, such as difficulties with eye movement, color perception, and depth perception. These vision challenges can impede a person's ability to read, drive, and perform routine tasks, leading to reduced independence and overall quality of life. As a person who has been dependent on others during my recovery, I’m all about being active when it comes to my health. 

Here’s a few other points about why prevention with MS patients is so important:

Early detection of MS-related vision problems: Routine eye exams can help detect vision issues caused by MS at an early stage. Identifying these problems promptly allows for timely intervention and management to mitigate potential complications.

Monitoring vision changes: MS is a progressive disease, and its effect on vision can change over time. Regular eye exams allow healthcare professionals to track any fluctuations in vision and adjust treatment plans accordingly. Those gradual changes will be harder for you to recognize, but a doctor can help you track them and make informed decisions about your health plan.

Preventing unrelated eye conditions: Beyond MS-related vision issues, middle-aged and older adults are also at risk of developing common age-related eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Early detection and treatment of these conditions are crucial to preserving vision. Glaucoma runs in my family, so I am seen regularly and complete various tests to ensure nothing has changed.

Enhancing quality of life: Maintaining good vision is integral to leading an active and independent life. Regular eye exams can help ensure that individuals with MS and other health challenges have the best possible vision to engage in their daily activities. I love my physical activities, and keen vision is essential for my safety while I perform my exercise routine.

If you don’t schedule your eye exam this month, make a promise to use the next few weeks to schedule an appointment before the end of the year. Regular eye exams are instrumental in detecting and managing MS-related vision problems and age-related eye conditions and can ultimately lead to a higher quality of life, so no excuses. Get those (other) pearly whites checked out and seize the day.

Check out the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out more information.