With only a few short weeks left in 2013, the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) is reminding Oklahomans to take care of your overall health and vision during this busy time of year. OAOP suggests five things you need to know to better protect your eye health as the end of the year comes to a close.

1. Comprehensive Exams – According to the National Federation of the Blind, an estimated 110,000 Oklahomans have some type of visual disability. With these types of statistics, it is important that eye health becomes a priority and part of routine and preventive medical care. Because of the rigorous medical training doctors of optometry receive and their expertise in the field of eye care, optometric physicians can provide patients with eye care that contributes to maintaining optimal eye and overall Don’t forget to schedule a comprehensive exam for children as well. Many Oklahoma children have sight-threatening conditions or need glasses and don’t know it because vision screenings they have received are not enough. In fact, one in every 10 children is at risk for undiagnosed eye and vision problems but only 13 percent of mothers with children younger than two take their babies to see an eye and vision care professional for a regular check-up. Eye problems can affect learning and behavior throughout a child’s life, but a comprehensive eye exam can change that.

2. Cafeteria Plans – With the end of the year approaching, it is time to use the remaining money set aside in employee cafeteria plans. Cafeteria plan benefits can be used to offset the cost of a comprehensive eye exam, buy a new pair of glasses or contacts, purchase protective eye gear or other.

3. High Blood Pressure – Avoid the stress that can sometimes accompany the busy holiday season. High blood pressure can place a strain on blood vessels in the eyes, causing them to narrow or bleed when they are subjected to too much force. The optic nerve may also swell, reducing the ability to see well. Managing blood pressure is the only way to treat hypertensive retinopathy and the longer it goes untreated, the higher likelihood of permanent damage to your vision. So, look for ways to de-stress during the holiday so you can enjoy the sights and activities of the season.

4. Holiday Toy Safety and Eye Injuries – Parents, take extra precautions when selecting toys for young children this holiday season. According to Prevent Blindness America, toys and home playground equipment cause more than 11,000 injuries to children’s eyes each year. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends avoiding purchasing toys that have pointed, sharp edges or pieces, to select age appropriate toys and to avoid toys like slingshots, dart guns and arrows, especially with younger children in the home.

5. Sports Injuries and Eye Wear - As basketball season tips off, don’t forget to keep an eye on sports injuries. According to The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries, an estimated 600,000 eye injuries related to sports and recreation occur each year with basketball considered a high risk sport for eye injuries. Over 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with the simple use of protective eyewear. Schedule an appointment with your local optometrist to determine the correct eye gear needed for the athletes in your family.