One of my teachers used to say, “A healthy lifestyle is a form of gratitude” and I’ve never forgotten it. It perfectly describes how I felt when I started to get in tune with my health and wellness, and has evolved throughout my studies of nutrition, yoga and optometry. Developing and implementing new, healthier practices has improved my life in every way. So, I was saddened to learn that chronic disease is now the leading causes of death and disability in Canada. Considering that many of these conditions have preventable risk factors, I think the importance and relevance of preventative health care has never been higher.
Prevention involves a healthy lifestyle as well as early detection efforts. I believe that participating in our health and wellness is empowering. We have the incredible privilege of living in a country where we have access to the tools for prevention. We are able to go to our family doctors, optometrists, dentists, and other health care professionals, for routine check-ups. We have the opportunity for Health Care, rather than just Sick Care. What a gift!
One of the things that drew me to Optometry when I was considering different careers was the preventative aspect. As eye doctors, beyond the commonly known role of prescribing glasses and contacts for clear vision, performing an eye exam involves a scan of the structures of the eye. In fact, 1 in 7 patients presenting for a routine eye exam has an eye disease with no symptoms! And even after diagnosis, the treatment of many conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, does not cure the disease. Rather, it aims to stop or delay progression, and the damage done through delayed or lack of detection is too often irreversible. Knowing that 75% of vision loss can be avoided through prevention, early detection and treatment, I’m passionate about my job and educating people on this topic.
But eye exams are not just about eye health. The eye is a unique window into overall health because it’s the only place in the body where it’s possible to actually see blood vessels and a cranial nerve. By evaluating these, we can gain an overall picture of the health of the body. Systemic conditions such as diabetes, strokes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can show up in the eye, as well as neural conditions such as multiple sclerosis and even certain types of brain tumors and cancers!
I would love to see the emphasis shift from sick care to health care, from treatment to prevention in all aspects of health care. Our bodies are brilliant, and adapt to chronic circumstances, stresses and deficiencies, so a lack of symptoms does not always indicate good health. In my profession, many people assume that clear vision means healthy eyes. I feel it’s crucial to inform people that this isn’t the case, and in doing so, empower them to make the best decisions for their eyes and health as a whole.
I’m proud to be participating in North Vancouver’s Modern Family Expo, which describes its purpose as follows: “The Modern Family Expo brings together the best for the whole family in the areas of Pre & Post Natal, Food & Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Active Living, and Eco-friendly solutions. We strive to spread a message of physical, nutritional, and emotional health for families everywhere.”
I’d love to meet more people in the North Shore community and discuss prevention, health & wellness, and any eye question you may have. Hope to see you there!
Dr. Sydney Davidson, in partnership with the Modern Family Expo, will be giving away 2 pairs of tickets to 2 lucky North Shore Mama readers! To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter form below. This contest will run until January 29th at 9PM. Winners must claim their prize within 48 hours, or a new winner will be randomly selected. Good luck!