Taking care of your eyes is an important part of taking care of your overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “people with vision problems are more likely than those with good vision to have diabetes, poor hearing, heart problems, high blood pressure, lower back pain and strokes, as well as have increased risk for falls, injury and depression.” During Healthy Vision Month, we want to share ways to take care of your eyes (and how Medicare can cover your vision care) so you can continue to live life boldly all year-round.
How can I take care of my vision?
Common eye conditions we hope to help you avoid include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Keep these ten vision care tips in mind to protect your eyes, especially as you get older:
1. Get regular eye exams. Visiting an eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect eye diseases in their earlier stages and can help determine if you need glasses or contacts to help you see better.
2. Know your family’s eye health history. Many eye diseases or conditions are hereditary. Talk with your family members to see if you’re at a higher risk.
3. Eat a good diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables including dark leafy greens like collard greens, kale and spinach is recommended for better eye health. There could also be eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as halibut, salmon and tuna.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing conditions like diabetes which can also lead to vision loss, diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider for ways to help maintain a healthier weight.
5. Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. This means checking with your doctor or healthcare provider about your A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol goals, especially if you are prediabetic or diabetic.
6. Wear protective eyewear. This can help you when doing activities at home, playing sports or exercising. Protective eyewear includes eye guards, goggles, safety glasses and safety shields.
7. Quit smoking. Smoking is bad for your whole body – including your eyes. It puts you at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage.
8. Protect your eyes from the sun. Remember to wear sunglasses outside, and if possible, purchase ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
9. Practice good contact lens safety. If you wear contact lenses, wash your hands before putting them in or taking them out. Also, remember to disinfect them and replace them.
10. Give your eyes a rest. Most of us spend a lot of time looking at a screen whether it’s a computer, a TV or a phone. Remember to give your eyes a break and reduce eye strain. The CDC suggests the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look away 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
Does Medicare cover vision care?
As we get older, we tend to have more vision problems, which is why it’s important to know about how Medicare coverage can help us take care of our eyes. Let’s break down vision coverage by Medicare type.
1. Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
Original Medicare does not cover routine vision care including eye exams, glasses or contact lenses. Part B can help cover vision-related services for eye disease or injury, and vision coverage is limited to medically necessary treatment for eye problems. What do we mean? Here are examples of medically necessary treatment covered by Part B:
- Cataract surgery
- Corrective lenses if you have cataract surgery
- Eye exams for diabetic retinopathy once every 12 months if you have diabetes
- Glaucoma screening tests once every 12 months if you are at risk (diabetes, family history, African American and age 50 and older, Hispanic and age 65 and older)
- Macular degeneration tests and treatment if you have age-related macular degeneration
2. Medicare Advantage (Part C)
Medicare Advantage plans include all the vision care benefits of Original Medicare and they may also include more comprehensive coverage and additional benefits including routine eye exams and corrective lens allowance. You can check out a plan’s vision care benefits by looking at their Evidence of Coverage (EOC) or Summary of Benefits Documents. If you have any questions about ApexHealth’s vision coverage, contact us at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant.
3. Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap)
Medigap plans cover costs not covered by Original Medicare including copays, deductibles and coinsurance. They do not include routine vision coverage.
ApexHealth wants to also remind you to make the most of your care with ApexExtras, designed to help you get more out of life. This includes a glasses and contact lens allowance. Your ApexAssistant is on hand to help you take advantage of these extras. Don’t forget to give them a call if you have any questions about your Medicare vision care coverage.
We can be reached at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.