Scott A. Edmonds, OD, FAAO, focuses his blog on the role of the optometrist in health care reform – moving from primary eye care to primary health care. He is the chief medical officer of MARCH Vision Care, the co-director of the Low Vision/Contact Lens Service at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia and a member of the Primary Care Optometry News Editorial Board. 

Disclosure: Edmonds is a consultant for March Vision.

BLOG: Holiday health care tips

‘Tis the season! With the Thanksgiving day festivities in the tank, the holiday season is officially in full swing. We’ll be getting little sleep this month as we work to help our patients get the most out of their flex benefits and health care saving accounts before they expire on Dec. 31.

If you listen carefully over the continuous hum of the edger, you may hear the doctor singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ With all this added traffic, it is a great time to step up to your primary care role and provide your patients with holiday health care tips.

This time of year the temptation for your patient to overindulge in sugary foods and beverages is at the annual high point. Even with our patients that normally work on self-control, there is a tendency to take a “healthy habit holiday.” As we know, the road to obesity is paved with little sessions of overindulgence. Obesity, of course, is the root cause of diabetes and hypertension, both of which can lead to permanent vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is, in fact, the fourth-leading cause of blindness in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Health.

As you summarize your optometry encounter, you are armed with the patient’s family history, their blood pressure and their current BMI. When you lay out your management plan for the future, you can nicely segue into a plan for managing the hectic holiday season as follows:

--Never go to a party hungry; eat a protein bar and drink some water before you arrive.

--Move into a room away from the food table to socialize.

--Avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates; instead eat nuts, cheese and the fresh vegetables.

--Stay active. More than 2 hours of television or screen time has been linked to obesity (even with their new progressive bifocals).

--Go for a walk. Only 10 minutes each day of the holiday season can make a big difference.

--Watch for holiday stress. Although we love our families, the planning, preparations, timing and scheduling of events can lead to stress.

--Stress can cause stress eating. Substitute exercise for eating as a tool for stress management and you will create a win-win.

--Make sure you get enough rest, as lack of sleep can increase the risk of weight gain.

New Year’s resolutions are often based on plans to undo the damage to our health caused by the overindulgence of the holidays. Make your resolution early!

Primary care is based on prevention and health education. All primary care providers should be taking every opportunity to make points of a healthy lifestyle. Together, we can slowly raise the consciousness of our fellow citizens. It is time for optometry to join the chorus.


Rodgers GP. This holiday season, don’t put your healthy habits on hold. HuffPost. Posted November 20, 2017.