Make Eye Health A Priority – Amanda Nealand

in Education

I was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare after an AOII recruitment event at California State University, San Marcos. I had always been passionate about serving the community, just not sure how to go about making an impact. During philanthropy day of recruitment, my chapter of initiation (Theta Iota) watched a video about an eleven-year-old girl named Kaitlyn who shared her heart-wrenching struggle with juvenile arthritis, resulting in a bilateral hip replacement. It was hearing Kaitlyn’s story that I began considering my academic journey to make a change.

After graduation in May 2014 from San Marcos, I worked in multiple health fields from dental assisting to diagnostic lab work. I obtained a job in an ophthalmology/optometry practice where I was surprised to learn that juvenile arthritis can influence your eyes as well. I fell in love with the profession and am currently a couple weeks away from finishing my first year at Midwestern University College of Optometry.

What has surprised me most in optometry school is how your overall health can have a profound impact on your eyes. In a case like Kaitlyn’s, who suffers from chronic inflammation in her joints from arthritis, there can be a severe affect on her eyes as well. Oftentimes inflammation in other parts of the body can be seen in the eyes. They say that the eyes are a window to the world for the person looking out but to the eye doctor looking in there is so much more. The eyes are the one place in the body through which we can see veins and arteries without cameras or surgery. This window into our vascular system gives us an insight into what is occurring in the body. There are many diseases that are often found first by an optometrist during annual eye exams such as diabetes, hypertension, brain tumors, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and many more. Some of these diseases have silent symptoms than can lead to sight threatening conditions. These are some of the reasons why it is important to have annual eye exam, even if you do not wear glasses. It is especially important if you have a family history of eye disease or are at a higher risk for developing an eye disease.

My advice for eye care is simple. Maintain a balanced diet and eat leafy green vegetables, as this can provide your eyes with the essential vitamins they need to function properly. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight in order to reduce the risk of developing a systemic disease that can lead to vision loss. Avoid smoking as it can increase your chances of developing macular degeneration. It is important to wear sunglasses with UV protection in order to prevent early cataract formation and skin cancer around the eyes. Finally make sure to give your eyes rest. Working at a computer all day can fatigue your eyes; therefore, it is important to take breaks and look away to help reduce eyestrain.

The ability to see the beautiful world around us is truly a special gift and I am appreciative to be in a field where I get to make it a little clearer.

For more information follow me on Instagram, @manders212.

Takeaway Resources: Yoga With Adriene
I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene. She was recommended to me by a sister and I have since told all my friends about her channel. She has yoga videos for every occasion such as when you’re sick, for beginners, when you’re stressed etc. She also has great 30 day challenges that are a nice start for beginning yogis.

My current go to food recipe is a super easy one. I am obsessed with avocado toast with the “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joe’s.

  • Cut an avocado in half, remove pit, and scoop the flesh into a bowl.
  • Add lemon juice and “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning.
  • Mash the ingredients together with a fork, keeping the texture slightly chunky.
  • Spread half the mash onto each piece of toast and garnish with some red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.
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