You wouldn't be reading this if your eyes weren't healthy enough to see the print.

Obvious, right? But most of us take our vision for granted. We put a lot of effort and energy into keeping our bodies fit and healthy, but we scarcely think at all about our eyes.

That can be a problem, especially for folks who are active in the Sisters Country outdoors. We're exposed to a lot of ultraviolet light, summer and winter.

That UV light can cause all kinds of vision problems.

"UV light from the sun accelerates the growth of cataracts (and) it's associated with macular degeneration, which can be devastating to vision," says optometric physician Dr. Zachary Oswald of Central Oregon Eye Care.

Dr. Oswald recommends consistent use of UV protective eyewear, from quality sunglasses to transition prescription lenses.

"Wearing a hat with a brim is, of course, always a good idea," he notes.

UV rays can be harming your eyes even when you are unaware of any glare.

"On cloudy days, that UV light is still coming through, those rays are still hitting your eyes," Dr. Oswald says.

Sisters Country also inflicts allergies upon its inhabitants at this time of year. If over-the-counter eye drops don't stave off the itching and irritation in your eyes, Central Oregon Eye Care can provide prescription drops that will ward off those symptoms.

Dr. Oswald strongly recommends getting an eye exam once a year. It's the only way to pick up the early stages of glaucoma, which shows no symptoms until it's too late to prevent damage. Glaucoma, a set of conditions related to damage to the optic nerve, can lead to blindness.

He urges folks in Sisters Country to come in if they experience changes in vision. "Floaters" may be a symptom of ageing eyes, but they can also be associated with retinal detachment.

If you see flashes of light that aren't there, get in to your eye doctor immediately. That's a very serious signal of retinal detachment and time is of the essence to get it repaired and save your vision.

Age-related macular degeneration is a major threat to vision, and it is not curable. However, Dr. Oswald notes, there are supplements that can slow down the progression of the disease.

Your vision is essential to your enjoyment of Sisters Country.

Preserve your ability to take in that magnificent view of the Three Sisters, your ability to see a bird flit across the yard or your ability to stitch your quilt or strike a tennis ball. Protect your eyes and get a regular checkup so you can stay sharp and focused and experience the beauty that surrounds us here.