Michelle Rupp: Our next Catch Up On Your Checkup is with your vision. I mean we all know how important our eyes are and as we age, I would suspect our eyeballs age as well. Joining me now is Dr. Julie Dolven. Dr. Julie, thank you for joining us today on AFMC TV.

Dr. Julie Dolven: Absolutely.

MR: You’re at James Eye Care out in West Little Rock and you’re an optometrist. So tell us first of all when should we be getting our eyes examined? How early in our lives should we be getting our eyes examined?

JD: Great question. We recommend children get their very first exam between six months and a year. So, at that point, have that big screening to look for any big things that could harm the long-term ability of the eyes to function well. Then we pick up again about age two. Then we recommend every couple of years to have a routine comprehensive health and vision evaluation. Once we get over 40, the risk of some medical conditions actually goes up. If we become diabetic we’re doing exams more frequently. There are some patients that are on medications that can affect the eyes and then we may see them once or twice a year as well.

MR: I like what you said about not just a vision test but also wanting to test for the overall health of our eyes. That’s that is something most of us don’t hear about is the health of our eyes. Talk a little bit about that. 

JD: It’s actually a lot of people that do not wear glasses or contact lenses, they don’t understand or see the value of health evaluation until they start coming to see an optometrist and my diabetic patients, their primary care doctors are requiring annual visits. I have personally, as young as 13 years old diagnosed, diabetes through a comprehensive eye exam. I’ve diagnosed MS several times, and there are just many medical conditions that will manifest in the eye. I almost feel like we’re a gateway to other health professionals. When we look through the pupil we can actually, with our lights, see the back surface of the eye, the retina. That is the only place in the body we can view arteries and veins, those blood vessels, without any invasive techniques. And so, hemorrhages can show up, retinopathy, all kinds of things. Inflammation throughout the eye can be one of the first signs of a rheumatological condition.

MR: They say the eyes are a window to the soul and that’s kind of true.

JD: I would agree with that.

MR: So, we’re in the dead of summer and I don’t go anywhere without my sunglasses. I would hope most people don’t too. I mean, especially here in Arkansas, you just have to have sunglasses. Is there something specific we need to be looking for when we’re picking up some sunglasses? Whether they’re fun and funky coming from Target or whether they’re high-dollar prescription sunglasses? Anything we need to look at for the sunglasses that are not regulated. 

JD: It’s not like the FDA is allowing or disallowing certain tags to be on glasses. And so it’s very important that you’re looking for UVA and UVB protection on those sunglasses. My runners, my tennis players, my bikers, a lot of those I like for them to have a little wrap around the face

because we are protecting from sun UV but we’re also protecting against that wind and so you want to have a large frame. The reasons we would need protection from UVA and B would be cataracts, macular degeneration. The wrap is to make sure that there’s no damage from the wind and then further a really good quality pair of sunglasses is going to have UV protection

front side and backside because the UV rays will actually hit the backside of the glasses and pop right into the eye. So, those are important. The larger size is important simply because cancerous lesions, skin cancer can happen right around here very commonly. Especially my farmers back here and the glasses can help to prevent some of that.

MR: Wow, that’s incredible. My last question in these last 30 seconds. We now are in a world where we’re virtual, we’re on a computer screen. Of course, we’re on our phones. Blue light, blue light glasses. Is that a real thing or is that just a great marketing tool for something that’s not necessarily needed?

JD: Sure, it’s a great question. There again, some of the glasses that you can buy online or over the counter are not regulated. So, we have to take one step back and remember the biggest source of blue light that we’re exposed to every single day is that big ball of sun that’s outdoors. So adequate sun protection, protecting from UVA and B light … essential. In front of the computers? Yes, we are exposed to blue light. However, some of the newer devices and computers went to red diode displays, so we’re actually reducing our blue light exposure that way. The LED lights … blue light. So, we are getting exposed to it a lot. Blue light glasses, there’s about 30 to 35% that we need to be blocking. If we block all blue light, unfortunately, that starts affecting our sleep, our circadian rhythms. So, it has to be at a certain percent and only the blue-violet rays. Those things are definitely put into prescription glasses very adequately and correctly. Now, I do get a lot of patients whether it be placebo or not, I bought these offline and they’re blue light and they help me … perfect. They’re not probably hurting you at all. But getting the ones with adequate protection definitely, I have seen improvement with my patients. But I’m also telling them 202020 every 20 minutes take 20 seconds, look 20 ft away. So, there’s definitely something to it. But I think technology is moving away from blue light exposure, and not forgetting those sunglasses.

MR: Awesome. 202020. That’s the takeaway. Dr. Julie, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.