Dean Kopan, OD, shares eye care information

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Eye care is an extremely important part of personal healthcare. Making sure you are regularly checking your eyes or updating your prescription if you wear glasses can significantly improve your health. 

Dr. Dean Kopan, an optometrist at Kime, Kopan and Associates, located at 4021 W Sylvania Ave., has many years of experience and knowledge to share about aging and eye care. He gives some tips for those looking to take care of their eye health. 

Aging Eyes

Eye heath is known to deteriorate as we age. There are some key tips to know as you age to stay ahead of the game. 

“Getting regular eye care is important throughout your whole life, and in particular as you age,” Dr. Kopan said. “Prescription glasses can solve many eyesight problems, but some conditions require more medical intervention.”

He recommends that adults see the eye doctor at least once a year for overall eye health and to be aware of what Dr. Kopan calls “quiet conditions,” or conditions that may take time to recognize. 

The Big Three

Dr. Kopan said the big three eye conditions apparent in adults after the age of 60 are cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

Cataracts are the most prevalent eye condition seen in older adults. It can cause blurry vision, similar to that experienced when looking through a steamy window. 

“With cataracts, vision can be restored through surgery” Dr. Kopan said. 

Glaucoma is a “quiet condition.” Pressure inside the eyeball can gradually increase, causing slow loss of sight. 

“There are no symptoms with glaucoma,” Dr. Kopan said. “You could lose 50, 60, even 70% of the optic nerve before you know there’s a problem. Your eye care professional will be able to diagnose changes in your vision. This is why regular visits are so important.”

The last of the big three is macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the erosion of tissues in the macular area and causes vision loss.

“This can be debilitating for patients,” Dr. Kopan said. “The macula is the part of your eye that works on presenting what you see directly in front of you. There are treatments for macular degeneration in the form of eye injections performed by retinol specialists. These treatments can help restore vision.” 

Regular eye care is paramount in diagnosing macular degeneration.

Dry Eye Danger

Dr. Kopan wants to shine a light on an additional condition many readers can relate to: dry eyes. 

“Dry eyes are very common, but should be something we pay attention to,” Dr. Kopan said. “Dry eyes are an issue we talk about every day with patients. Concentrating on the computer, staring at the highway or reading a book causes our blink rate to slow down and leads to dry eyes.” 

He also said the environment plays a big factor. One way to counter this is by getting in the habit of blinking. You can also find many over-the-counter solutions to help combat dry eyes.

Quick Q&A

Dr. Kopan answered a couple of questions regarding eye health, his practice and more. 

Do you or any of the doctors in your practice specialize in any particular facet of vision health? Yes, we specialize in all facets of vision health.

What advice would you give to help our readers protect their vision?  Wear sunglasses and also try to limit staring at things that produce blue light like computers, phones etc. Also, stay up-to-date with doctors’ visits.

Does blue light really harm our eyes? Yes. Most eyeglass prescriptions we provide have blue light protectants already included. I would recommend taking a break from staring at a computer screen or cell phone every 20 minutes, to lubricate your eyes. Try to remember to blink when you are reading.

What color eyes are the healthiest? There is not one eye color that’s healthier than another.

How much computer screen time is too much? I recommend taking a break every 20 minutes, just to give your eyes a break. Set your cell phone with a reminder. It just takes a second to blink.

If you didn’t help people with their vision, what would you like to do? I always knew I wanted to be a doctor of some sort and help people. My dad and my brother are both optometrists; it runs in the family.

Do you yourself prefer glasses or contacts? I find that I am more comfortable in glasses, but those who are a bit more active than I tend to go for contacts.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? And do you wear your sunglasses there? “ I always wear sunglasses. I would say places in the Caribbean, that’s where we find ourselves vacationing most often.

What is your guilty pleasure? Sports, more specifically my son’s games and coaching. We were always really involved in basketball and soccer in high school. We love traveling to games.

How old were you when you started wearing glasses? I was around 12 to 14. It was a part- time reading prescription. It wasn’t until I got older that I needed them more often.

Dr. Kopan is a member of the American Optometric Association, The Ohio Optometric Association and the Toledo Area Optometric Society where he served as an officer and past president. His office can be reached at 419-475-6181.