May 17, 2012
National Healthy Vision Month – ZEISS Online Vision Screening Check
Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com
Fuzzy outlines blur your vision. You squint to make out the letters on a sign or on the computer screen. These are a few of the signs that your vision is not as clear as it used to be. To correspond with Healthy Vision Month and the 100th Anniversary of ZEISS Precision Lenses, Carl Zeiss Vision decided to launch the ZEISS Online Vision Screening Check along with a set of online educational tools.
“How we really wanted to celebrate [the anniversary] was through patient education campaigns,” said Jeff Hopkins, senior manager of professional affairs at Carl Zeiss Vision. “We wanted people to understand a little more about their vision and help them understand the options that they have.”
This past November, Carl Zeiss Vision did a national survey of customers and found that 30 percent of people had problems reading, 44 percent had night vision that was inadequate, and 48 percent had visited an eye doctor only once in two years or more.
“There are vision problems going uncorrected and this online tool is a way of encouraging seeing an eye doctor,” commented Hopkins.
The Online Vision Screening Check begins with a set of instructions to allow people to adjust their monitor settings to make sure the test is performed in the correct format for the user. It lists steps in adjusting screen calibration, screen brightness, and the user´s distance from the monitor. After the test has been formatted correctly, the screen takes you to the three different exams.
The first test focuses on visual acuity, which is related to the ability to look at small patterns and structures in high contrast conditions. In the test, there´s a rotating letter “E” that has size changes and the user is asked to use the arrow key to answer which direction the “E” is pointing. Following the visual acuity test, the next portion examines contrast vision with a letter “C” that fades from dark to light. Patients are asked to use the arrow marks to determine the “open side” of the letter “C.” The contrast vision results correlate with situations where there is changing light conditions. Lastly, the test gives users an opportunity to examine any color visual deficiencies. In particular, the ability to see the colors red, blue, and green is tested. The test result is considered positive if the opening of the letter “C” isn´t correctly determined.
“The tools were developed with eye doctors to make sure that we weren´t leading anyone astray,” noted Hopkins. “They worked to make sure that it was accurate and to the degree to which it could be a simple tool.”
Overall, the tests are user friendly. The results come fairly quickly, about five minutes after the exam. The possible results are good, fair, or poor. Though these tests are beneficial, Zeiss states that the online test is not a replacement for a yearly checkup and recommends that people schedule annual eye exams with a professional doctor to check basic vision and eye health. The website also includes a search engine that users can utilize to look up nearby opticians.
According to Hopkins, both adults and children can take the Online Vision Screening Check.
“This can help parents see if [vision´s] a problem. Kids, like everyone else, don´t always notice a vision problem, it´s what they´re used to,” explained Hopkins. “Vision problems come slowly and gradually and you don´t really notice it. I think that anybody can use it.”
Along with the Online Vision Screening Check, the company provides tips and information on eye examinations and vision maintenance. There are various sections, including facts to know about visions and lenses, tips for selecting an eye doctor, questions to ask at an eye appointment, and facts to know about age-related vision changes. Within each section, there is also a PDF available of the notes listed on the website.
“The thing that we find over and over again is that most people don´t really understand what´s available to them in terms of lenses. They think of it as a generic product“¦ it´s got a prescription, but there´s a world of difference among lenses and you have a lot of choices. We´re trying to help people understand that,” remarked Hopkins.
Apart from the Online Vision Screening Check and the educational tools, the company is also currently developing an iPad application.
“I think the web and the interactive applications are the perfect way to demonstrate this“¦ demonstrate visual problems and visual alternatives you have because it´s hard for people to conceptualize what differences proceed and how you can show them,” said Hopkins. “I think that you´re going to see a lot more of these things, I think this is the ideal medium for educating people about their vision.”
Apart from the tools that Zeiss offers, people can participate in Healthy Vision Month in a number of other ways. It´s important to note that the theme for this year´s Healthy Vision Month is "Healthy Vision: Make It Last a Lifetime." Organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute (NIH), and the American Optometric Association (AOA) are all working to promote the importance of eye health and vision care. They have listed ways in which people can advocate for good eye health.
In the CDC´s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vision impairment was stated as having effects on daily activities like reading, driving a car, and cooking. They advocate for early detection, timely treatment, and proper care to prevent any disorders related to eye health or vision impairment. Other organizations are making a statement about vision care as well.
"Our messages stresses the important role comprehensive dilated eye exams play in detecting eye diseases in their early stages and ensuring people are seeing their best," commented Neyal J. Ammary-Risch, M.P.H., CHES, deputy director of the NEI's National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), on the American Optometric Association´s website. "Millions of people in the United States have undetected vision problems and eye conditions. We need everyone's help encouraging people in every community to schedule eye exams. As every eye care professional knows, a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs.”