As many as one in six adults struggle with sight-threatening eye conditions and far more than that live with some level of vision loss as they get older. Age is a risk factor for many of the major causes of blindness, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and cataracts, but there’s a lot we can do to minimize our chances of developing these conditions.
There are more benefits to eating healthy and staying active than simply staying trim and fit. These habits are also good for eye health! Fruits and dark leafy greens are particularly important for eye health. It’s also important to exercise regularly and avoid harmful habits like smoking (a huge risk factor for many of the above sight-threatening conditions).
Without treatment, chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can cause serious eye problems (among other health complications). Diabetes increases the risk of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, while untreated high blood pressure can increase the risk of eye strokes.
Each of these conditions can result in permanent vision loss, which is why regular doctor visits can make such a difference for eye health. Early diagnosis means these conditions have less time to cause damage before you begin fighting back.
Most changes to our eyesight are gradual ones, making them harder to notice at first. Whenever you notice a change, make an appointment with the eye doctor. Maybe you’ll only come out with good news and an updated prescription, or maybe we will catch the early signs of a developing eye condition.
Sudden changes to your vision are even more important to report to the eye doctor. Symptoms like flashes of light, a dark curtain or shadow over the vision, blurry vision, or a sudden increase in floaters are worth an urgent trip to the eye doctor, as they are signs of retinal detachment. It can be corrected if treated in time, but can cause permanent vision loss if not.
We already mentioned age as a risk factor, and if you have a family history of eye diseases, diabetes, or high blood pressure, you are probably at high risk of developing them as well. Age and genetics are obviously beyond our control, but our diet, exercise, use of protective eyewear like sunglasses, and eye exam schedule are not!
The damage to our eyes from the UV rays in sunlight is cumulative over the course of our lives and permanent. We should be as diligent in protecting our eyes from sunlight as we are in protecting our skin. Make sure to choose sunglasses that block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays (they will say so on the label). Polarized lenses are pricier but especially good because they block glare coming in from most directions, making them great for driving on a bright day.
Regular eye exams are essential. Modern medicine and technology can’t reverse many sight-threatening conditions, but we can slow or halt their progress if we catch them early on. A simple eye exam could be the difference between permanent vision loss and extra decades of healthy eyesight. Ask us what your ideal eye exam frequency is at your next appointment. We will also be happy to offer you more tips on maintaining healthy vision.