Ways to Save Your Vision
You’ve heard the saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” It turns out that your eyes are often the best windows to your health. By looking into your eyes, your eye doctor can tell a lot about your general health. For example, did you know that some systemic and chronic diseases (i.e., diabetes, high blood pressure) can often be detected by an eye doctor during a comprehensive eye exam?
Since about a third of people with diabetes are unaware they have it, an eye examination can be an important clue in detecting this potentially life-threatening disease. By dilating the pupil, your eye doctor can examine the blood vessels in your eyes. Changes to these blood vessels can signify various stages of diabetic retinopathy. Left untreated, it can cause blindness.
Other eye diseases, like glaucoma, may cause vision damage and eventually blindness without the patient ever experiencing any symptoms. While not all eye diseases can be prevented, there are simple steps that everyone can take to help their eyes remain healthy now and reduce the chance of vision loss in the future.
Wear sunglasses — UV blocking sunglasses may delay the development of cataracts, since direct sunlight can hasten their formation. Sunglasses may also prevent retinal damage.
Don’t smoke –studies show that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked. Smokers are also at increased risk for developing cataracts. A recent article in the American Journal of Ophthalmology indicated that “it’s never too late to quit smoking…even older eyes can benefit from kicking the habit”.
Eat right — the belief that eating carrots improves vision has some truth, but a variety of vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of your diet. Researchers have found people on diets with higher levels of vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.
Regular eye exam — adults with no symptoms or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening by age 40–the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, your eye doctor will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.
Eye protection — an estimated 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year, so it is critical to wear proper eye protection to avoid eye injuries during sports (i.e., hockey and baseball) and home projects (home repairs, gardening, and cleaning).
Know your family history — many eye diseases are genetically linked, so you should know your family’s history of eye disease because you may be at increased risk.
Early intervention — most serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma and AMD, are more easily and successfully treated if diagnosed and treated early. Left untreated, these diseases can cause serious vision loss and blindness. Early intervention now will prevent vision loss later.
Contact lens care — follow your eye doctor’s instructions regarding the care and use of contact lenses. Sleeping in contacts that are not approved for overnight wear, using saliva or water as a wetting solution, using expired solutions, and using disposable contact lenses beyond their wear limit can result in corneal ulcers, severe pain and even vision loss.
Be aware of eye fatigue – this can be a sign of several different conditions, such as dry eye, presbyopia, or glasses with lenses that are not properly centered. See your eye doctor to determine why your eyes are fatigued and to receive proper treatment if needed.