10 Tips to Protect Your Vision and Prevent Blindness
Did you know preventive care can help you keep your eyes healthy and avoid common causes of
If you’ve never had a vision problem, you probably don’t give much thought to your eyes. And you may not be aware of the changes that occur as you age, some of which can dramatically affect the way you see or even lead to blindness.
The good news is that even small preventive measures, like wearing sunglasses and eating greens, can help protect your eyesight and stave off vision problems later in life.
Here is a list of 10 eye facts from Everyday Health that will help you protect your eyes and prevent blindness for years to come.
1. What you eat matters for your eye health.
What should your eye-healthy plate look like? Pretty much like any good, healthy meal. Green leafy vegetables provide the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, shown to help reduce the risk for eye diseases, notes the AAO. Vitamin A found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes boost eye health, according to the National Institutes of Health. Adding fruits like strawberries, oranges, and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants, which also help fight eye disease. Salmon or other cold-water fish are also ideal since omega 3s are good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.
2. Comprehensive eye exams pick up vision problems early.
Getting a regular eye exam is the only way to catch a variety of problems, such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease, ensuring you’ll get timely treatment. Most people with vision problems should see their eye doctor once a year to make sure their sight hasn’t changed.
For the rest of us, the AAO recommends the following eye exam schedule:
- At 40 years old: a baseline eye exam
- From 40 to 55 years old: an eye exam every 2 to 4 years
- Ages 55 to 64 years old: an eye exam every 1 to 3 years
- At 65 and up: an eye exam every year
During the exam, your doctor will take your family history and check your pupils, central vision, color vision, and eye pressure. He or she will also dilate, or widen, your pupil using special eye drops to see the back of your eye and check for any damage.
3. Smoking now can cause eye problems later.
When you smoke, cyanide from the smoke gets into your bloodstream and can destroy the eye’s cells. Smoking puts you at a higher risk of developing cataracts and increases problems with dry eyes. It also raises your risk of macular degeneration, an incurable condition that destroys vision in the center of the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
4. You can help preserve your eyesight by protecting your eyes from the sun.
The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest on the body and is susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Various kinds of skin cancer, like carcinoma and melanoma, can form in the eyelids and around the eyes, causing major damage to the eye structure. Make sure you wear sunscreen and sunglasses with UVA / UVB protection.
5. Working on a computer all day can give you dry eyes.
The breakdown of the oily and mucous layers of the eyes keeps tears from evaporating, and the eye compensates by producing more water. Having tired eyes at the end of the day is another symptom.
Dry eyes can also be caused by:
- Certain medications, including antidepressants
- Hormonal changes due to aging
For treatment, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at something that is at least 20 feet away, recommends the Mayo Clinic. You can also try a warm compress or artificial tears that your doctor can recommend.
6. Diabetes is the top cause of blindness in America.
The most common cause of blindness in the United States is diabetic retinopathy so, the best way to prevent blindness is to prevent diabetes, if possible. Nearly all patients with type 1 diabetes develop this eye condition, as do about 60 percent of those with type 2 diabetes. Over time, your vision can blur and lead to blindness. Controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can prevent the disease from getting worse, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Diabetic retinopathy may be treated by laser surgery, which can reduce the risk of further blindness. However, treatment cannot repair the vision that is already lost.
7. After age 60, macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness.
Macular degeneration occurs when eye tissue degenerates, causing blurriness or loss of vision in the central part of the eye. There are two forms of macular degeneration: wet and dry. If vision loss is caused by fluid in the retina, the condition can be treated by injections in the eye. But most forms are dry, for which there is no treatment.
Risk factors for macular degeneration include a family history of the condition, smoking (which damages the eye’s blood vessels), a lack of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet, and not protecting your eyes with sunglasses.
8. Cataracts are common, but treatment is very effective.
Cataracts are a relatively normal part of the aging process and usually begin to appear around the age of 60. Symptoms can include blurred vision, faded colors, glare, reduced night vision, and double vision. Cataracts are associated with exposure to UV rays or radiation therapy, such as cancer treatment. So, to prevent blindness, follow the health suggestions in tip #1 and wear UV protecting sunglasses. Cataract treatment, which includes replacing the damaged eye lenses with good ones, is typically very effective. Make sure to visit your ophthalmologist to see what your options are.
9. Damage to the eye’s optic nerve causes glaucoma.
Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye and begins to damage the optic nerve. The condition progresses very slowly, and it can take years for the nerve damage to become severe enough to cause vision problems.
The risk of getting glaucoma is higher for people who have a family history or are diabetic. For the majority of patients, treatment includes a once-daily eye drop that reduces pressure in the eye. If drops fail, surgery may be an option.
10. Your eyes reveal a lot about your health.
Your eyes can tell so much about your overall health: dry eyes can be a marker of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or thyroid disease. Patients who have blurry vision could have diabetes or a tumor, or may have had a stroke. People with itchy red eyes may have a contact lens allergy that they’re unaware of.
Don’t put off your next eye appointment! Trust ZiekerEye Ophthalmology for effective solutions to cataracts, glaucoma and refractive vision problems. Call us at (518) 450-1080 or use our convenient online, Request an Appointment, form to contact our scheduling team.