From cataracts to glaucoma, millions of Americans experience eye conditions that lead to vision loss every year. Fortunately, studies indicate that numerous eye conditions are largely preventable through making healthy choices and getting regular eye exams. As a result, May has been established as Healthy Vision Month, a month where the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages everyone to prioritize their eye health by forming healthy eye habits.
6 of the Most Common Eye Conditions
There are a variety of eye conditions that can affect people of all ages. Among the most common eye conditions include:
1. Refractive Errors
The most common reasons people wear glasses or contacts, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, are caused by refractive errors. When light passes through the cornea and the lens, it is bent – or refracted – to form the images we see. If that refraction is skewed, vision suffers.
Cataracts affect the lens of the eye, which is responsible for focusing light on the retina. However, cataracts can cause the lens to become cloudy, leading to vision loss. Although they are most common in older adults, cataracts can occur at any age.
3. Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that affects the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. AMD can lead to vision loss and blindness, and there are two types:
● Dry AMD: most common and occurs when the cells in the macula break down over time
● Wet AMD: less common but more serious, develops when new blood vessels grow under the macula and leak fluid or blood.
4. Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that develops when high blood sugar levels damage the retina’s blood vessels. As a result, the blood vessels may leak or bleed, leading to vision loss or blindness.
Glaucoma encompasses a group of conditions that affect the optic nerve, which can cause damage to the eye and lead to vision loss. The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, which occurs when the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open. This openness can cause fluid to flow freely and accumulate in the eye’s drainage canals, increasing your internal eye pressure and eventually damaging the optic nerve.
6. Dry Eyes Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that occurs when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn, especially when reading, working on computers, watching tv or using your cell phone. Treatments for dry eyes may make you more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eyedrops.
What Damages the Eyes?
There are multiple factors that can damage the eyes and lead to vision impairment or vision loss. Although aging is one of the most prominent reasons why your eyesight may deteriorate, here are a few other ways that you may be harming your eyes:
1. Exposure to UV Rays
● UVA: may hurt your central vision by damaging your macula, a portion of the retina in the back of your eye
● UVB: may impair the front of your eye, like the cornea.
Along with negatively impacting numerous aspects of your health, smoking has been linked to several eye conditions, including macular degeneration and cataracts.
3. Excessive Screen Time
From using your computer at work to texting a friend, we are constantly in front of a screen. Unfortunately, too much screen time can damage your eyes, leading to dry eye and eye strain.
Tips for Protecting Your Healthy Vision
Fortunately, there are several ways to help protect your eyes and focus on your eye health. Here are some important tips to follow:
● Quit smoking
● Avoid secondhand smoke
● Take breaks from screens
● Wear protective eyewear when necessary
● Know your family’s eye health history
● Practice workplace eye safety
● Eat a diet high in Omega-3s
● Maintain a healthy weight
Other tips to keep in mind when caring for your eyes include:
Protect Your Eyes From UV Radiation
Some of the most effective ways to protect your eyes from UV radiation include:
● Wear sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation
● Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outside
Remember, UV radiation can reflect off the ground, water, snow, sand, and various other surfaces.
Care for Your Contact Lens
If you wear contact lenses, it is essential to care for them properly. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands before putting in your contacts and disinfect and replace them as needed.
Maintain Your Blood Sugar Levels
90% of blindness due to diabetes is preventable, which is why it is crucial to monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol to ensure healthy vision.
Get Regular Eye Exams at Cascade Eye & Skin Centers
Although your eyes may appear healthy, it is essential to make sure that you receive annual eye exams with an eye care professional at Cascade Eye & Skin Centers. Some eye conditions are only diagnosable with a dilated eye exam, which enables your provider to view the interior of your eye to determine if there are any signs of damage or disease.