Ok, I really meant “eye” health, although it is about the “i” in individual. A week doesn't go by when a pilot coming in for their physical tries to prove - to me or is it themselves - their eyes are as good as they ever were, denying they need readers or perhaps glasses to see a far.
They struggle through the eye exam, barely reading the minimums for near and distant vision, all the while holding on to their cheater glasses hoping they won't be needed. In the back of my mind, I’m wondering if they clearly see the runway signage on a rainy night.
I get this. I truly do and I’m not above this myself. It’s about not succumbing to the plague known as glasses. It's about maintaining the perception of youth while pushing father time into the background and it's about the ego.
There’s also some science to the idea that by making eye muscles contract and relax, called Visual Therapy, the lens maintains its elastic properties bringing images into focus. This concept lends credence to the notion that using glasses becomes a crutch for the lens to stiffen.
Be what it may, I’m continually amazed at the number of aviators who have either never been to an eye doctor or have not been in many years. They don’t even go with good insurance benefits for preventative eye care. This shouldn't surprise me since it's no different from the doctor-avoidance way of thinking. For these avoiders, my job is to push them.
GO SEE AN EYE DOCTOR, GET AN EYE CHECK-UP!
As an AME, I don’t care if glasses are worn or not so long as one’s visual acuity meets the standards. Not only am I grateful as a passenger when my pilots have sharp visual acuity, I'm also grateful when my pilots stay healthy in order to return for their next physical, sans problems. This is the crux of i health. Staying healthy includes the eyes and all other body parts.
It's difficult for a doc to assess eye health without the special tools optometrists and ophthalmologists possess. Checking for glaucoma, cataracts and retinal diseases are just a few of the problems which can creep up and potentially affect an aviator’s flight status, and they are not easily evaluated in a primary care setting.
Many eye problems can be prevented. Damage to sight from glaucoma (a.k.a. ocular hypertension) is controlled by medication. Cataracts can often be prevented by good UV blockade. Retinal damage may be averted with various laser or medication therapies. BUT, if we don’t look for the problems, it’s likely they will find us first, and I’m willing to bet that long after one’s flying career is over, we’d be grateful to have our eyesight, along with all our senses.
My recommendations for wellness eye exams are every three years the 30s, every two years in the 40s and every year after 50. Please don't be one who ignores their “i” (eye) for the sake of their “e” (ego).
Here’s to a healthy outlook!Dr. Larry
Dr. Larry Greenblatt
Heart Attack, Stroke and Diabetes Prevention
Sports medicine/Family Practice
Thank you Dr. Larry!
Enjoy the Journey~