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Recognizing the Importance of Eye Exams for Nurses

Have you checked your vision lately? While we all know that healthy eating habits and regular workouts are essential for physical and mental well-being, did you know that eye health also improves your quality of life and even keeps you safe? That’s why, every year, Healthy Vision Month is observed as a way to stress the importance of maintaining good eye health and preventing vision problems. 

During this month-long campaign, various activities are organized to educate Americans on steps they can take to protect their vision. Similarly, nurses who work in healthcare can benefit from Healthy Vision Awareness Month, as good eyesight is essential to providing safe and effective care to their patients. By promoting healthy habits and regular eye check-ups, Healthy Vision Month can help improve overall eye health and inspire people nationwide to take care of their eye health. 

But When Is Healthy Vision Month? Let’s Set the Record Straight

While the American Optometric Association designates May for the observance of Healthy Vision Month, healthy eyes get a second time to shine during July. That’s because, during July, the National Eye Institute (NEI), a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), also observes Healthy Vision Month and, this year, is drawing attention to the connection between eye health and health equity. Thus, this year’s Healthy Vision theme emphasizes the importance of health equity among different populations and the fact that everyone should have access to affordable and accessible vision care. 

So why is Healthy Vision Month important for nurses? Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are in charge of everything from making sense of medical reports to accurately reading discharge instructions for patients. Consequently, poor vision among the nurse population can increase the risk of medical errors.

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How Old Are Nurses? What the Research Says 

Studies show that the general population may begin to experience vision problems starting from their early to mid-40s. In particular, many people who are in this age group will have difficulties seeing clearly at close distances. Considering that 55 percent of the RN workforce is aged 50 or older, Healthy Vision Month plays a critical role in raising awareness about eye care and health among the aging nursing population. 

Since comprehensive eye exams can help people 50 and older safeguard their vision by detecting eye diseases early on, the National Eye Institute encourages everyone to get regular eye checkups. Needless to say, getting regular eye exams can help older nurses stay healthy and confident in their profession. 

How Can PRN Nurses Secure Vision Insurance?

Many full-time nurses will receive a health benefits package that includes vision care benefits. This may mean that a nurse is eligible to receive coverage on eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses. Yet, many registered nurses decide to work per diem—or on an “as needed” basis—because of work flexibility and higher pay. For this reason, per diem nurses may not qualify for benefits packages and, therefore, have limited access to vision care benefits. 

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And while navigating health insurance while working as a PRN nurse may seem complex, finding coverage is possible and may include adequate vision health benefits. Some of the most popular health insurance plans for per diem nurses are private insurance plans. Private insurance packages may offer add-ons and benefit perks, including dental insurance, mental health resources, and vision care. 

Do I Need a Recent Eye Exam for Work as a Nurse? How to Find an Eye Exam Near Me

Alongside annual physicals for nurses, some employers stress the importance of regular eye exams for nurses—especially among the aging nursing population. Hence, if you are already working as a registered nurse or are interested in pursuing a nursing career, it’s always a good idea to get your eyes checked out. Many of the tasks that nurses do involve being able to read small print, like reading medication labels or test results. In addition, nurses should keep their vision sharp to recognize changes in skin or eye color when a patient feels sick. 

If you are a nurse, finding an eye exam near you is as simple as checking to see if a doctor of optometry (OD) is covered by your health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you may want to ask around for an eye doctor that is willing to work on a sliding scale basis. In both scenarios, all nurses should get regular eye exams to help detect and monitor eye conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and cataracts. Also, vision impairment could be due to underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain autoimmune conditions – for this reason, annual physicals for nurses are also important.

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Healthy Eyes Make a Healthy Nurse 

Good eye health starts with healthy lifestyle changes and regular eye exams. Accordingly, nurses and healthcare facilities alike can celebrate Healthy Vision Month by learning about and stressing the importance of eye health.

In the same way, Healthy Vision Month recognizes the importance of older nurses who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the healthcare industry due to years of clinical experience. Spreading awareness about eye health and encouraging regular eye exams are ways to help everyone keep their vision strong and healthy!

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