08:00 AM

Oral Health, Meet Eye Health

During Healthy Vision Month each May, the National Eye Institute encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and informs them about steps they can take to protect their vision. But why are we talking about eye health on an oral health blog?

Oral health is a critical piece to the oral health puzzle, but so is vision. Just as the mouth can be the first place to spot signs of chronic disease, so can the eyes.

An eye exam, for example, can uncover broken or leaking blood vessels in the retina, which are an indicator of diabetes. Specifically, the capillaries that deliver blood to the retina can be broken down by a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream, and elevated blood sugar is a warning sign for diabetes that a vision provider would spot perhaps before anything else triggers a diabetes test from a primary care provider.

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Some even suggest that identifying chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension at the eye doctor or dentist is more cost effective and can mean better outcomes for people who otherwise might not be diagnosed until a chronic disease has progressed or other complications develop.
Moreover, a healthy set of eyeballs means productivity and independence are within reach for much longer.

So what does the National Eye Institute encourage for healthy vision?

  • Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking.
  • Know your family history.
  • Use protective eye wear.
  • Wear sunglasses.

Taking these steps can help prevent vision loss or blindness, which can result from many diseases and conditions. In addition, comprehensive dilated eye exams can detect problems early, when they’re easier to treat.

DentaQuest believes in eye care as much as oral health because you cannot have improved overall health without healthy eyes and mouths. This is in part why we created eyeQuest back in 2009.

At the start of 2009, we began administering a Medicaid vision program for 40,000 people in Nevada with Amerigroup coverage. As of April 1, 2016, we now administer vision programs across 9 states for 1.6 million people!

Still need convincing that vision is important to care for the same way you care for the rest of your body? Commemorate Healthy Vision Month by pondering and sharing these fun facts:

  • 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes.
  • Eyes are the second most complex organ after the brain.
  • An eye is composed of more than 2 million working parts.