Visit the eye doctor before school starts

Before your final summer days get filled up with other back-to-school activities, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for your kids and yourself! Comprehensive eye exams can detect underlying eye conditions and improve your children’s performance at school. You also want to keep your prescription (if you already wear glasses) up-to-date.

Eye exams are often skipped

A survey found that over 50% of parents in the U.S. don’t take their kids for a comprehensive eye exam before going back to school. In the same survey, the majority of respondents agreed that eye exams are important for their kids. So what is preventing parents from taking their kids to the eye doctor? Some might think that vision screenings, sometimes offered at school, are adequate. But vision screenings and eye exams are different and screenings can miss the majority of vision problems. A comprehensive eye exam can include checking for depth perception, color blindness, and eye alignment, in addition to the visual acuity test. Your eye doctor will also check the structure of your child’s eye making sure everything is normal and healthy.

When to take your child for an eye exam

There can be warning signs your child has a vision problem, but even without symptoms or if your child has a low risk of vision problems, the American Optometric Association recommends children receive an eye exam at 6 months of age, 3 years of age, 5 years of age (before first grade), and then every two years or as suggested by your doctor. If your child is at risk, the frequency changes to every year or as recommended. Look for a list of factors that place a child at risk for vision impairment here.

Vision problems can affect learning

Sometimes with kids, vision problems can be misdiagnosed or undetected. There is a link between vision and learning, so making sure they can read the blackboard, their books and their laptops is important. About 80% of learning is through a child’s vision and 60% of students who are labeled as problem learners have an undiagnosed vision problem. Adding eye exams to your priority list will benefit your child and their learning.

Visiting your vision provider is an essential part of your health routine. Take some time to prepare your family for the school year ahead and schedule your eye exams today.

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The difference between an ophthalmologist, an optometrist and an optician

If you know the difference between the three vision care professionals, it will help when you go to your next comprehensive eye exam. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all provide eye care services, but the levels of training and expertise are different. An eye doctor, either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, will oversee your eye exam, and an optician will likely be the specialist who will fit and dispense your corrective lens. Here’s some more information on each eye care professional:

Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists specialize in medical and surgical conditions of the eye. They will perform eye surgery and treat eye diseases. An ophthalmologist could be a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathic medicine. They usually work in a medical office and may be affiliated with a hospital. Their education includes an undergraduate degree, medical school and four years of medical residency. They are also board certified.

Optometrist

An optometrist is a doctor of optometry. Typically, optometrists complete four years of undergraduate work and a four-year postgraduate degree program, which includes medical training. An optometrist’s work includes the diagnosis and management of eye diseases, and optometrists may treat eye diseases with medications.

Optician

An optician fits and dispenses corrective lenses like eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optician educational training can vary but may include certificate programs or associate degree programs. Licensing depends on the state laws.

Check to see if your eye doctor is in the Advantica network or find a vision care professional in the Advantica network.

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How to reduce your risk of eye injury

Keeping your eyes safe from hazards only requires a few steps. Whether going for a swim or doing chores around the house, remember to keep your eyes protected. You will reduce your risk of eye injury by 90 percent if you wear protective eyewear.

Protect your eyes

You may already be required to wear safety protection at work, like safety glasses or face shields, but remember when you’re working at home, you need that protection, too. Some house chores that could be hazardous to your eyes include home repairs, yard work and cleaning with chemicals.

Home repairs. If you’re using a power tool, were eye protection. Using a hammer and nails or other tools can create an environment where those items can become projectiles.

Yard work. Lawn mowers, trimmers and blowers can propel debris or other materials into your eyes. Safety glasses can also provide protection from branches and twigs that can be hazardous.

Cleaning with chemicals. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, chemicals in cleaning products, like bleach, cause 125,000 eye injuries a year.

At work, or when working at home, consider safety glasses with side shields, face shields, goggles with ventilation, and other variations when deciding what gear best fits with your task. The fit of your protective eyewear is important for its effectiveness.

If you already wear glasses, those glasses aren’t enough to protect you. When choosing protective eyewear, look for the appropriate kind for your activity.

Are you protecting your eyes when you play sports?

For sports, the National Eye Institute created a chart to find the right eye protection for a list of sports. There are many varieties of sports goggles, all specially designed for certain sports. And not only will the sports eyewear protect, they can advance and improve the performance of the athlete.

Basketball, baseball and racquet sports can have the most potential for eye injury. According to an article on AllAboutVision.com, the amount of sports-related eye injuries reported in emergency rooms are over 40,000 every year. But most of these injuries are preventable with protective eyewear. With sports, we may think of flying objects as the hazard, but eye injuries can be a result of an elbow or finger in a close contact sport.

Too much chlorine could hurt your eyes

This summer, if you and your family are spending time at the pool, think about your 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. 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. Wearing swim goggles might be the best way to protect your eyes and your kids’ eyes. 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.

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Sweet potato burger recipe for summer shindigs

Sweet potato burgers

Sweet potatoes are healthy, delicious and make a great burger – they are also good for your vision health! With nutrients like vitamin E, sweet potatoes can fight inflammation, protect cells in the eyes from damage and can fight against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This recipe is great for a summer party.

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato with skin removed, cubed
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained
½ small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice from ½ lime
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat, drain water and let cool. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well-combined. Use a spoon to scoop out 1/5 of the mixture and form it into a patty with your hands. Place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Repeat process for the remaining mixture. Place baking tray with patties into the oven and bake for 30-50 minutes or until slightly golden brown and firm. Add your favorite toppings!

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Summer foods for healthy vision

When summer arrives, so do all the wonderful fruits and vegetables in season. For your vision health, and overall health, fruits and vegetables are, of course, the foundation. As your vision benefits provider, we put together some summer food recommendations for your eye health.

Watermelons, along with strawberries, have valuable vitamin C. The vitamin C found in these fruits could lower your risk of developing cataracts, scientific evidence suggests, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Tomatoes are another vegetable in abundance at your farmer’s market in the summer. And tomatoes are packed with vitamin C.

Raspberries are another summer fruit high in vitamin C. Keep raspberries, with strawberries and watermelon cut up and ready to eat, in the fridge. It will make it easier for you and your family to make the choice of healthy fruits instead of sugary snacks.

Peppers. Salads make great light summer fare. Along with the green bell peppers in season, toss in some eye-healthy spinach and carrots to make a nutrient-rich salad. The AOA 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). Bell peppers and raspberries provide these nutrients.

Lots of beta-carotene choices. Cantaloupe, mangos, apricots and peaches might make you think of summer. Now they can make you think of eye health too. Beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A which is a great nutrient for your eyes.

Dark, leafy greens. Lutein and zeaxanthin, beneficial to your eyes, can be found in spinach, kale, collard greens and broccoli, along with peas and avocados, which are all great for a summer salad.

Salmon. If you like to grill in the summer, fish, like salmon, is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your eye health. Looks like we put together a great summer menu–salad, grilled fish and fruit for dessert.

Keep up the healthy routine

All the fruits and vegetables available in the summer can make it easier to keep up your healthy living routine. But don’t forget to schedule an eye exam with your vision care provider for you and your family.

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5 steps to healthy vision

Sight could be one of the five senses that we take for granted the most. The National Eye Institute (NIH) says more than 23 million Americans (age 18 and older) have never had an eye exam. That is why Healthy Vision Month is important.

Started in 2003, the NIH promotes Healthy Vision Month to encourage us to make eye health a priority. The NIH made it easy for you to recognize the occasion with five steps to keep your eyes healthy. Check these off your list and keep them in mind not just this month, but all year.

Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam–Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam with your vision care provider. Some common eye diseases do not have early symptoms, but a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect these diseases in the early stages.

Use protective eyewear–Make sure you and your family are using protective eyewear during sports and other recreational activities. A good reminder now that the summer months are here. Also, when you are taking care of chores around the house or if you have a job that could pose a risk to your eyes, safety glasses can prevent injury.

Know your family eye health history–Do some research and check in with your family members (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles). Knowing if your family has vision problems or diseases will help determine if you are at high risk.

Wear sunglasses–When you purchase sunglasses, pick a pair that blocks out 99-100% of UVA/UVB rays. The sun can have negative effects on your eyes. For example, extended UV exposure can cause cataracts.

Live a healthy lifestyle–Your overall health affects the health of your eyes. More specifically, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of diabetes, which can lead to diabetic eye disease and vision loss. Other recommendations–consume healthy foods, refrain from smoking, and manage any chronic health conditions. All of these can be linked to your vision health.

Now, participate even more with Healthy Vision Month–share this information with your family and friends. We’re happy you’re not taking your eyesight for granted.

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How to find an eye doctor

A great way to recognize Healthy Vision Month and to ensure your own healthy vision is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an Advantica vision provider. We have a provider search tool to help you find an eye doctor. And there’s some other information to consider when setting up an appointment.

Use the provider search tool

On Advantica’s homepage, there is a Provider Search tool. You will see it in the middle of the page, highlighted in orange. After choosing the option, Vision Care Provider, you will see various fields to enter information like city, state or zip code. You can also narrow your results by choosing a maximum distance radius from your location. Additionally, you can search by provider last name, practice name or specialty.

After clicking the “Search for a Provider” button, your results will be listed on screen and can also be exported to a PDF or Excel document. Information includes address, phone numbers, specialty and whether the provider is accepting new patients.

How to verify coverage

There are two ways to verify your coverage. You can call customer service and they will provide you with specific plan information. Or, your provider can call our provider service line to verify your vision plan coverage.

If your eye doctor is out-of-network

If you visit an out-of-network provider, you will need to submit an out-of-network reimbursement form for payment, with a copy of your original receipt, to the following address:

Advantica
Attention: Claims Department
PO Box 8510
St. Louis, MO 63126

Refer to your benefit booklet for additional information regarding your plan’s out-of-network benefits. Note that not all plans have out-of-network benefits, so please contact your benefits administrator or call our customer service center for assistance – 866-425-2323.

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