Did you know that roughly 12 million people over the age of 40 have some kind of visual impairment? Many of these eye conditions could have been avoided with preventative eye health practices.
Luckily, May is Healthy Vision Month. With a whole month focused on your vision, it is the perfect time to take a proactive interest in your eye health.
So, we have assembled some must-have tips to help you protect your eyes so they can last a lifetime and give you the vision that matches your lifestyle. Read on to learn more!
How a Healthy Lifestyle Protects Your Eye Health
Your visual health should be a priority in maintaining a healthy life. After all, your eyes keep you safe and allow you to see all the world’s beauty.
Keeping your overall health in check is the first step in also keeping your eye health in check. Making healthy choices can help you lower your risk of conditions or diseases that lead to issues with your vision.
Some tips to keep you healthy include:
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Fueling your body with healthy foods also helps power your eyes. Some foods that contribute to eye health include dark leafy greens rich in Vitamins A and K, like kale and spinach.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for visual health. Fish such as halibut, salmon, or tuna are great examples.
Exercise can help ward off conditions like diabetes which can be problematic for your vision. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are also more easily avoided for those who lead an active lifestyle.
Staying active can be as simple as getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. From walking to dancing, any movement is an excellent way to get your heart pumping and protect your eyes.
It is no secret that smoking can have negative impacts on your health. And it’s not just your lungs that can suffer when you smoke.
Smoking can contribute to high blood pressure, cataracts, and macular degeneration. All of these can potentially lead to long-term blindness. Additionally, smoking can harm your optic nerve, which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma. If you are having trouble quitting, there are plenty of free resources to provide support. You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Assess Your Risk for Eye Conditions
Unfortunately, people of any age can have vision impairment. However, your risk for certain eye conditions grows as you get older.
Other factors to consider for eye conditions include:
- Family history of eye conditions
- Being overweight or obese
- Hispanics, African Americans, or Native Americans have higher risks of eye conditions
Certain diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure, are commonly associated with eye conditions. Diabetes, for example, can lead to diabetic retinopathy. This condition often leads to blindness or vision loss.
You should also be aware of your family’s health history. Certain conditions are often passed down genetically. These include conditions such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma.
Talk to your eye doctor during your annual exam to assess your eye health. Or, schedule a visit today with Newsom Eye if you think you may be at advanced risk for any eye condition.
Some common conditions you should be aware of include cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration, among others.
One condition that can be challenging to your vision is cataracts. Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens of your eye. Cataract symptoms can include:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Faded colors
- Double vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
Cataracts are very common for older patients. In fact, an estimated 50% of Americans over 80 either have cataracts or have had surgery to remove them.
This is a common condition because the eye lens becomes hard as you age. The muscles around the eye might also struggle to mold the shape of the lens.
Cataracts can be corrected by glasses or contacts in the early stages, but typically surgery is necessary to retain your vision as the condition progresses.
Glaucoma can also impact your vision if left untreated. The condition damages the optic nerve, generally caused by elevated pressure within the eye. It can be treated in several ways, including:
- Eye drops
- Laser treatment
Your Newsom Eye provider can help you prevent any progressive vision loss by monitoring your eye pressure. Proactive treatment of glaucoma can help protect your eye health.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) often has no early symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, you may notice wavy or blurred areas and difficulty seeing details in front of you.
AMD is caused simply by aging. The most prevalent risk factors are a family history of the condition and long-term smoking. It’s the leading cause of vision loss amongst older Americans.
Regular eye exams are the first defense against AMD. Eating healthy, staying active, and quitting smoking can help prevent the progression of AMD.
Treatment options include medications and supplements that may slow progression. However, currently there is no cure for AMD.
Other Eye Conditions
Your eye doctor can assess your risk for other conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, usually solved with special medications, eye drops, or surgeries.
However, other eye conditions that affect your vision, such as refractive errors, are easily solved with corrective lenses or LASIK eye surgery.
Some level of vision loss is quite common. In fact, millions of Americans of all ages either use corrective lenses or could benefit from LASIK for clearer vision. LASIK and other laser eye surgeries have also become more popular as a solution for visual impairment.
LASIK for Vision Correction
LASIK eye surgery can help correct common conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. These refractive errors can make your vision blurry, but those problems are a thing of the past with laser corrective surgery.
This procedure works by reshaping your corneas so that light can properly hit the retina at the back of the eye.
Some benefits of LASIK include:
- Minimal pain
- No bandages or stitches are necessary
- Minimizes or negates the need for glasses and contacts
- An extremely high success rate
- Enhanced vision to match your lifestyle
Newsom Eye can help you determine if you are a good candidate for this surgery.
Importance of Regular Eye Exams to Maintain Healthy Vision
It is essential to get yearly eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams can help your Newsom Eye optometrist discover eye conditions before they become too devastating for your vision or overall health.
Many eye conditions do not show symptoms. So, even if you feel healthy and have a clear vision, it is important to have regular eye exams. Additionally, dilated eye exams are quick, easy, and painless.
What to Expect During Your Eye Exam
Your Newsom Eye optometrist will begin the exam by checking for common vision problems, such as near or farsightedness. This includes a simple reading check, one eye at a time.
Then, our Newsom Eye team will place drops in your eye that dilate (widen) the pupil. This allows them to look within the pupil to check for eye conditions before symptoms appear.
Your eyes may feel a bit strained after the exam. As the pupils return to normal, your vision may be blurry and sensitive to light for several hours. It is best to wear sunglasses and ask a friend or family member to drive you home after a dilated eye exam has been performed.
When to See Your Eye Doctor
You should get comprehensive eye exams at the frequency requested by your doctor. Usually, this will be every year. This is especially true if you:
- Are age 60 and older
- Notice changes in your vision
- Have a family history of eye conditions
Those diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure may need to have more frequent exams. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be coming in for regular exams.
You should also see your doctor if you notice specific visual symptoms. These include:
- Decreased or worsening vision
- Pain in or around the eye
- Redness of the eye
- Non-clear drainage from the eye
- Double vision
- Floaters (specks that appear to float before your eye)
- Circles (or halos) around light sources
- Seeing flashes of light without a known cause
These can all be potential symptoms of eye conditions. A simple visit to your doctor can help you determine the cause and find solutions.
Further Ways to Protect Your Eyes
In addition to regular eye exams, knowing your family’s health history, and maintaining good health, you can follow a few other health tips to protect your vision. For example, maintaining a healthy weight is an excellent way to keep the body functioning correctly in all areas—including your eyes.
You should also practice eye safety in the workplace. This includes wearing proper safety goggles or glasses when doing home repair, painting, yard work, or playing sports. This may also include wearing the right sunglasses.
The best sunglasses will block 99 to 100% ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. These types of radiation can be particularly damaging to the eye and lead to progressive vision loss.
Once you have protective lenses, it’s also good to care for them properly. This includes regular cleaning of glasses and contacts. Additionally, you should always wash your hands before removing contact lenses to avoid infection.
Follow any advice given to you by your Newsom Eye specialist. They will inform you of the proper cleaning, wearing, and safety precautions to prevent your vision from worsening.
Protect Your Eye Health This May for Healthy Vision Month!
If you want to protect your eye health and maintain healthy vision, your Newsom Eye provider is your first line of defense! So, take a proactive interest in your vision this month and schedule a comprehensive eye exam with our Newsom Eye team. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment and experience the Newsom Eye difference. You deserve NEWSOM EYES!