Watching the Eclipse? Here’s How to Protect Your Vision

After much anticipation, the solar eclipse is just days away! We want you and your family to enjoy this special event while also being safe and protecting your eyes.

There is a lot of information out there about the eclipse, viewing the eclipse and other related information. As your vision benefits provider, we’re going to focus on a few solar eclipse facts and tips to make sure you keep your eyes protected.

Some of us are lucky to be in the direct path for total eclipse viewing. This is also called the path of totality. Depending on your location, your viewing instructions differ. See more information below.

Facts about viewing a solar eclipse

Total eclipse – If you’re in the path of totality, you will be able to see a total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun, for about two to three minutes.

Eclipse blindness – Looking at the solar eclipse without eye protection can cause retinal burns, also called solar retinopathy or “eclipse blindness.”

Damage – If you expose your eyes to the sun without protection, it can cause permanent or temporary damage to the cells in your retina. Be aware it could take hours or days to realize you damaged your eyes.

Eye symptoms – Other symptoms you can experience if you view the eclipse without eye protection are distorted vision and altered color vision. Contact your eye care professional if you notice any of these symptoms.

Tips for viewing a solar eclipse

The American Astronomical Society listed useful instructions for viewing the eclipse. Here’s a summary:

Inspect – Check the condition of your solar filter; it should be free from any scratches and punctures. If there is any damage, don’t use it.

Follow instructions – Read and follow the instructions on your solar filter or on the package.

Supervise – Always supervise children using solar filters, whether using eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.

Eyeglasses – If you wear eyeglasses, keep them on and put the eclipse glasses over them or use a handheld viewer in front of them.

Don’t remove filter or glasses – Before looking up family viewing eclipse with safety glassesat the sun, stand still and cover your eyes with eclipse glasses or a solar filter. After viewing, look away from the sun and then remove your glasses or filter. Don’t remove your eclipse glasses or solar filter while looking up at the sun. In other words, be mindful and cautious.

In path – If you’re lucky and can view the eclipse in the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon is covering the sun completely. You’ll be able to see a total solar eclipse for a short time, but as soon as the sun starts to reappear, make sure to use your eclipse glasses or solar filter for the rest of the time. It’s not safe to look at the sun without eye protection.

Outside of path – If you’re viewing outside the path of totality, use your safe solar filter during the entire event.

No cameras – It’s recommended to get expert advice if you want to use a camera or telescope during the solar eclipse. Do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope or other devices even while wearing eclipse glasses or using a solar filter.

Looking towards the sun or at the solar eclipse without eye protection can cause permanent damage to your vision. We want you to experience this exciting and unique event, but please be safe and protect your eyes. For any medical questions concerning your eyes and vision, please contact your eye doctor.

For more information and additional resources:

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A Good Way to Teach and Encourage Healthy Habits

It’s back-to-school time for your kids, and now that we’veFamily reading a book together covered tooth care tips to keep their smiles bright, let’s back up those healthy habits with some good reading material. Besides the importance of reading and encouraging it for our back-to-school theme, books about oral health can work as a way to get your kids excited about taking care of their teeth. With some assistance from you, what they read can inspire them to be more independent when taking care of their teeth. Using books as a tool to teach dental and vision health can be fun and helpful. Books can also work as a buffer for push-back from kids who don’t want to brush or floss. Books can also help calm fears if your child is apprehensive about a visit to the dentist or eye doctor. And for kids who need reassurances about wearing glasses to school, we’ve got a list of good reads for that, too.

Add to your children’s library

We’ve put together a list to add to your children’s bookcase:

Brush, Brush, Brush by Alicia Padron, for children ages 1-3, may be helpful if your child is scared or fussy when the little toothbrush comes out. Because it’s a board book, it’s easy for little hands to grip. Cheerful pictures demonstrate each step of brushing, like putting toothpaste on the brush and rinsing with water.

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, for children ages 2-5, might be the most recognizable book about teeth because it’s from one of the most adored children’s authors. Another good introduction to dental hygiene for the little ones. The book illustrates who has teeth and who doesn’t and how to take care of your teeth.

Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi, for children ages 3-5, will teach your kids what to expect when they visit the dentist. This could help with any fear or anxiety. The book explains the different tools the dentist will use during the visit with an amusing and friendly tone. If you need a few more with this subject matter, there are similar ones from character favorites like Curious George and the Berenstain Bears. Famous author Mercer Mayor also has a book about visiting the dentist.

Brush, Floss, and Rinse by Amanda Doering Tourville is for children ages 5-8. The book teaches readers about the importance of brushing and flossing. It describes how brushing keeps plaque and cavities away and explains how flossing keeps gums healthy. Other details in the book include when to get a new toothbrush and wearing a mouth guard for sports to protect teeth.

For the nervous and uncooperative kids

Here’s a few more titles to help if your kids are not cooperating when it’s time to brush their teeth, and if your child is nervous about their first dentist appointment:

Pony Brushes His Teeth by Michael Dahl (ages 2-4)

Brush Your Teeth, Please by Leslie Mcguire (ages 2-5)

Maisy, Charley, and the Wobbly Tooth by Lucy Cousins (ages 2-5)

Dentist Trip from the Peppa Pig series (ages 2-5)

For kids returning to school with a new accessory

A book can be a great way to introduce wearing glasses and visiting the eye doctor. If your child is worried about going to school with glasses, here are some recommendations that could help.

Who Wears Glasses by Ana Galan, for ages 4-7, is a fun way to remind kids that they’re in good company if they wear glasses.

The Princess Who Wore Glasses by Laura Hertzfeld Katz is for ages 4-8. The book emphasizes how healthy vision is important to see all the beautiful details in the world. The story presents an eye test and glasses as magical, a great and positive approach for kids.

Arlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzberg, for ages 3-6, tells the story of a shaggy dog who can’t play catch because he can’t see the ball. Arlo’s story is a way to show kids that glasses can help them do all the things they want to do. The book is also interactive and includes details on Arlo’s visit to the eye doctor.

My Travelin’ Eye by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, for ages 4-7, tells the story of a girl who has an eye condition called strabismus. The book shows the challenges of being different, and highlights an upbeat and creative outlook. The story can be an inspiration for kids with eye conditions.

All these books will coincide with your kids’ upcoming back-to-school dental and vision appointments and provide preparation for the school year. There are lots more titles to choose from, so spend a little time at the bookstore and find the ones that best suit you and your kids.

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6 Tooth Care Tips to Keep Your Kids in School with Healthy Smiles

kids at schoolAccording to a report by the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. We don’t want our kids to miss even one day of fun and learning because they have a dental issue, so let’s start off the school year with healthy smile habits. While you and your family start the routine of packing lunches, doing homework, and getting to the bus on time, remember to make brushing and flossing a part of that. When brushing teeth becomes a part of the routine, it will help create and encourage the healthy habit.

With a healthy smile, kids can enter the classroom with confidence. But with an unhealthy smile, kids could miss more days of school and be more distracted while in class. Painful dental problems could prevent kids from participating in class activities and could also affect their concentration levels. Serious issues like tooth decay affect their overall health and could lead to other problems with eating, speaking and learning.

These healthy choices will keep your kids smiling and help prevent missed school days for dental procedures:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, making sure all surfaces of the teeth are covered.
  • While paying close attention to the gum line, gently brush teeth for two minutes.
  • Floss teeth at least once a day.
  • Schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family.
  • Pack lunches with healthy smile choices like apples, carrots and celery. Try to limit sugar-filled snacks and high-starch or refined carbohydrate foods like chips, pretzels, cookies, and white bread.
  • Choose milk or water instead of juice for lunch. The bacteria that causes tooth decay thrives on simple sugars, like those found in sticky foods and sugary beverages, like soda, juice and sports drinks.

Children smile, on average, 400 times a day! Let’s keep those smiles healthy, clean and bright while they are in school and all the time. If you haven’t made your preventive dental appointments for you and your kids yet, here’s your reminder. Most plans cover dental exams and cleanings every six months. You still have time before the kids head back to school!

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What to Keep in Your Dental First Aid Kit

Summer is a great time for a camping trip with the family. And generally, during the summer, we spend more time outdoors swimming, hiking, and playing softball with our buddies. July was declared National Park and Recreation Month encouraging the public to get out and enjoy nature’s beauty. No matter your activity of choice this summer, we are happy to see you getting out there and staying healthy. We have a special concern for your oral health, so let’s keep those smiles healthy and safe with an emergency kit for dental injuries.

Is your dental office phone number saved?

Summer activities are keeping you active and healthy, but they also have the potential of causing dental injuries. For starters, keep dental emergency information like the phone number of your dentist and your dental benefits information readily available, so it’s easy to find during an emergency or if you’re away from home. Pass this information on to your childcare provider or family members who are watching your kids.

Dental emergency kit essentials

Along with keeping dental emergency information handy, create a dental first aid kit that’s packed and ready to go for camping trips, road trips, and your other summertime activities. Here’s what we recommend stocking your dental emergency kit with:

Rubber gloves – to prevent spreading germs when first aid kitcaring for an injury.

Alcohol wipes – to clean an injury.

Cotton balls or gauze pads – to help stop bleeding and temporarily protect an injury.

Hydrogen peroxide – to disinfect and to use for cleaning an injury.

Salt – to make a soothing mouthwash, dissolve with warm water.

Floss – to remove stuck particles from teeth in order to relieve pain.

Dental wax – to cover up sharp or broken orthodontic wires and brackets or a fractured tooth.

Pain reliever – to help with any oral pain.

Topical anesthetic – to help manage oral pain more directly.

Vaseline – to temporarily reattach a crown, but see a dentist as soon as possible.

Temporary dental filling material – store-bought products will keep the injured tooth protected temporarily, but, again, get to a dentist as quickly as soon as you can.

If you’re out camping, having these supplies can help with a bit tongue or lip. If the injury is more serious, like a knocked out tooth, you’ll need to get to an emergency room or a dentist’s office.

If your tooth is knocked out…

If you, a family member or friend has a tooth knocked out, first rinse the tooth with cold water. If you can, place the tooth back in its socket. If that isn’t possible, put the tooth in a clean container with milk, water or saliva. The 30 minutes after the injury is critical with a knocked out tooth. To try to save the tooth, get to a dentist as soon as possible.

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Don’t Overlook This Step for UV Safety Month

Our awareness of the hazards of UV rays includes taking steps like wearing sunscreen and sunglasses. We focused a recent blog article on the importance of sunglasses to maintain healthy vision. But our awareness of harmful UV rays might not include the hazards to our oral health. So, let’s fill in the gap and make sure your smiles are protected from outside oral health dangers. Our focus on this topic also coincides with UV Safety Month, aptly designated as July, when summer pool parties and outdoor activities are at their peak.

You may be skipping this important stepwoman wearing hat and sunglasses

In the summer, with our trips to the pool and beach, and all the time we spend outside, we remember to protect our skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays with sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. Now include your lips when you think about protection from the sun. According to Everyday Health, Inc., 63% of people who use sunscreen don’t protect their lips. Sun exposure can increase your risk for lip cancer.

Because the skin on your lips is delicate, it requires UV protection just like the rest of your body. When you stock up on sunscreen for the summer, include SPF 30 lip balm or lip sunscreen. Remember to look for an SPF that covers both UVA and UVB rays and just like sunscreen you use on your skin, reapply often.

Now that we’ve covered the overlooked step of UV protection for your lips, there are two other oral and vision health dangers we’d like you to watch out for.

Too much chlorine could hurt your teeth and eyes

The chlorine in the pool is protecting us from bacteria, but pools with too much chlorine can cause damage to the surface of your eyes and the enamel on your teeth. Wearing swim goggles might be the best way to protect your eyes and your kids’ eyes. Chlorine can cause eyes to become red and itchy because it washes away the tear film on the surface of eyes. Tear film is the thin layer that keeps your eyes moist and smooth. Washing your face and eyes with fresh water after a swim and using eye drops are some other things you can do combat the effects of chlorine on eyes. Concerning your teeth, the pH levels in the chlorinated water can erode tooth enamel, the hard shell coating that protects from decay. Most pools are regularly checked and monitored for pH levels, but it’s a good idea to remind your kids to keep their mouths closed while swimming.

Lifeguard says, “No running!”

When the lifeguard blows the whistle and yells at the kids, that lifeguard may very well be saving some teeth! With the slippery surfaces that surround a pool, a slip and fall could result in a chipped tooth. Playing in the water can also lead to hitting into pool walls or floors, and playing with friends can turn into an accidental elbow to the mouth or eye. Encouraging all to follow the pool rules can prevent a dental or eye injury, so remember–no running, no diving in the shallow end and no horsing around.

Happy summer

We want you and your kids to keep those summer smiles intact and those healthy eyes bright. Grab the sunscreen products, swimming goggles and your sunglasses, and enjoy the sun and outdoors.

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3 Reasons to Add Vision Benefits

Your oral and vision health are strongly linked to your overall health. The idea of preventive care applies to your health care, but also your vision care. And, as you grow older, and with the new hazards of our digital world, caring for your eyes becomes more significant. If you have children, vision coverage is important to carry them through their school years and because vision problems can go undetected.

Here are three important reasons to consider adding vision coverage to your benefits package:

The older we get…

As we get older, the performance of our eyes starts to decline, and we’re more susceptible to complications, like cataracts and glaucoma. But if you have vision coverage and get regular eye exams, signs of any issues can be detected. Regular eye exams will allow your eye doctor to identify any vision correction needed and early stages of eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. For your kids, regular eye exams provide the opportunity to correct any vision problems early.

New problems for your eyes

Our extended use of digital devices, like woman wearing glassesour phones and tablets, has created new problems for our eyes, like digital eye strain. All the screen time we have can cause issues like eye dryness, eye fatigue, blurry vision and difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance. If you have vision coverage, you can talk to your eye doctor about any of these symptoms, or better yet, prevent them from happening with options like blue light lenses. Kids can get digital eye strain (also called computer vision syndrome) too, and might be even more susceptible to it.

Early detection

Like in other areas of your health, early detection can make a big difference in your vision health. By talking with your eye doctor about your family’s eye health history, your risks can be discussed. Macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are examples of common eye conditions that can be detected during routine comprehensive eye exams. With early detection, treatments and surgeries for conditions like these can save your vision. Concerning your overall health, your eye doctor can also identify health issues like hypertension and diabetes.

We encourage you to consider vision coverage to protect your vision and keep your eyes, and your family’s eyes, healthy. To learn more about our vision plans, visit our website.

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Choose These Summertime Foods for Good Oral and Vision Health

Ah… summer. Time to relax and unwind. While you’re relaxing and enjoying the summer, remember to keep up your oral health routine. To help you do that, here are some summertime fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth so you can protect your smile while enjoying the sun.

Although we may associate summer with ice cream, ice pops and s’mores, those summertime choices can increase the risk of tooth decay. Try satisfying your sweet craving with fruit instead. Not only does fruit provide overall health benefits, they have benefits for your smile, too.

Strawberries and summer are a wonderful eating strawberries These berries are filled with vitamin C, and vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen. Collagen helps maintain the strength of your gums and strong gums are important for keeping a healthy smile. Reducing plaque and removing the surface stains on your teeth are also on the to-do list of vitamin C. Remember strawberries are acidic, so drink plenty of water after your summer treat. You’ll be drinking the extra water in the summer heat anyway.

Apples have a high water content and stimulate saliva production. Your saliva keeps the bacteria in your mouth under control. Also, when you eat this low-acid, fibrous fruit, it scrubs the surface of your teeth. Apples, like strawberries, are called “dental detergents” for this reason.

Watermelons, along with strawberries and just like apples, are a water-rich fruit. Along with their smile benefits, they are helping to keep you hydrated during the hot days of summer. Water helps remove particles of food in your mouth and stuck in your teeth, it washes away bacteria, and helps promote saliva production. All this helps increase the natural protection of tooth enamel. Watermelon also has that valuable vitamin C which is also helping to kill bacteria in your mouth and strengthen gum tissues.

Having some strawberries and watermelon cut up and ready to eat in the fridge will make it easier for you and your family to make the choice of healthy fruit over other sweet snacks. Year round, the food you choose to eat can have an impact on your oral health. Consider these other food choices to maintain your healthy smile.

Think of your eyes, too

As your vision benefits provider, we also have some summer food recommendations for your eye health. The vitamin C found in the fruits suggested above could lower your risk of developing cataracts, scientific evidence suggests, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). The AOA also reported that eating foods with vitamin C along with beta-carotene, vitamin E and other nutrients can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Fruits and vegetables available fresh in the summer, like raspberries and bell peppers, provide these nutrients. Salads can be lighter fare for hot days, so toss in eye-healthy spinach and carrots. Lutein and zeaxanthin, beneficial to your eyes, can be found in broccoli, peas and avocados, which are other great additions to a summer salad. You’ll probably be grilling this summer, and fish, like salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your eye health. Looks like we put together a great summer menu–salad, grilled salmon and fruit for dessert.

Relax, and keep up the healthy routine

So now you can relax even more since we’ve just set up a great summer menu and snacks that will keep your teeth and eyes healthy this summer. Keep up your oral health routine by brushing twice daily and if you do partake in the summer tradition of s’mores or other foods with cavity-causing sugar, drink lots of water. Not only will you stay hydrated, so imperative in the heat, but you will be washing away excess food particles that stick to your teeth.

Look for more upcoming blogs with tips for UV protection and dental emergency kits to continue our summer theme and celebrate National Park and Recreation Month and National Picnic Month.

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