Up to one in every six adults struggles with a sight-threatening eye condition and many more than that experience a degree of vision loss as they age. Many of the major causes of blindness and low vision are connected to age, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts, but there’s a lot we can do to minimize our risk of developing these conditions and keep our eyes healthy.
Being trim and fit aren’t the only benefits of eating healthy and staying active; it’s also good for your eyes! Dark leafy greens and fruits are particularly important to include in your diet for eye health, as is regular exercise. It’s also important to avoid bad habits like smoking, which is a huge risk for many of the sight-threatening conditions listed above.
When chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes go untreated, they can lead to serious problems for eye health, among other things. Diabetes is linked to macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, and untreated high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of eye strokes. Any of these conditions can cause permanent vision loss, and that’s why regular checkups with your doctor are so critical for eye health. Early diagnosis means less of a chance for the condition to cause damage before you start fighting back.
Changes to eyesight tend to be gradual, which can make it harder to notice them initially. Any time you do notice a change, schedule an appointment with the eye doctor. The result could be as simple as an updated prescription or it could be the early diagnosis of a serious eye condition. However, symptoms like flashes of light, eye swelling or pain, red eyes, or a sudden increase in floaters merit an urgent trip to the eye doctor because they could indicate retinal detachment.
Someone with a family history of eye diseases, diabetes, or high blood pressure is likely at higher risk of developing them too, and age is another massive risk factor. We can’t control our genes or our age, but that’s why regular eye exams and healthy life habits matter so much.
Damage from UV exposure from sunlight is permanent and cumulative over the course of our lives, so it’s essential to protect our eyes from it, not just our skin. Choose sunglasses that are designed to block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays (if they do, it will say so on the label). Polarized lenses are particularly good because they block glare coming in from other directions, such as reflecting off of other cars in traffic.
Eye exams are essential for maintaining healthy eyesight for life. Many sight-threatening conditions cannot be reversed with the medicine and technology we have today, but we can do a lot to slow or halt their progress if we catch them early. For this reason, regular eye exams can be the difference between permanent vision loss and extra years or decades of healthy eyesight. The ideal frequency of your eye exams depends on risk factors and age, but once every other year is a good starting point.
We would be happy to offer more tips on maintaining healthy eyes and strong vision when you come in for an eye exam. We can also recommend a good pair of sunglasses, and we’d love to hear from you if we haven’t seen you in a while.