Celebrate Healthy Vision Month this May with Cascade Eye & Skin Centers. Join us in spreading the word about the importance of keeping your eyes healthy and getting regular eye exams. To help you make the most of Healthy Vision Month, we’ve put together some helpful tips to maintain your eye health and combat the leading causes of blindness.
The Importance of Getting an Eye Exam
Regular eye exams are essential for detecting and treating eye problems early on, which can help prevent vision loss and even blindness.
Even if you do not notice any changes in your vision, getting a comprehensive eye exam is crucial. Many eye diseases do not have any symptoms in the early stages and can only be detected through an eye exam. Moreover, your brain adapts to changes in your vision, so you may not notice any symptoms until the damage is already done.
Leading Causes of Blindness
Did you know only one in five Americans are able to identify the leading causes of blindness in the US? To help you understand and prevent these common causes, we’re providing an overview of each one. If left untreated, the following conditions can severely impact your eye health. That’s why it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms and seek medical attention promptly if you notice any changes in your vision.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration affects your retina and occurs when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 or older. There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common. About 80% of those diagnosed with the condition have this type. While wet AMD is less common, it is more serious and can progress much faster.
Those who smoke, eat a diet high in saturated fat, have hypertension, and are overweight, have an increased risk of developing AMD. Early symptoms may include blurred vision, trouble detecting contrast and straight lines, and dark or empty spots in the center of your vision. Consider using an Amsler Grid to test for AMD.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss and blindness. The most common type of glaucoma, called open-angle glaucoma, occurs when the fluid in the eye doesn’t drain properly, causing pressure to build up and damage the optic nerve over time.
There are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing glaucoma, including age, family history, race (African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk), and certain medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. In the early stages, glaucoma may not cause noticeable symptoms, which is why regular eye exams are so important. As the disease progresses, however, you may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, halos around lights, and eye pain or redness.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can affect people with diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, leading to diabetic retinopathy. Symptoms of diabetic eye disease may include:
- Blurry vision
- Dark spots or floaters in your field of vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Poor color vision
- Flashes of light
It’s essential to control your blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication as prescribed by your doctor to help prevent diabetic eye disease. You should also schedule regular eye exams with your eye doctor to monitor your eye health and detect any problems early on.
4 Ways to Protect Your Eye Health
Now that you’re aware of the leading causes of vision loss, here are a few easy tips to safeguard your eye health. During Healthy Vision Month, we encourage you to take the necessary steps to ensure optimal eye health, increasing your chances of enjoying clear vision for years to come.
1. Protect Your Eyes From UV Rays
Protecting your eyes from UV rays is vital for maintaining good eye health. UV rays can damage your eyes just like they can damage your skin, and long-term exposure may increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems. To protect your eyes from UV rays, wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes and face from the sun.
2. Be Cautious When Playing Sports
Participating in sports is a great way to stay active, but it’s imperative to protect your eyes while playing. Eye injuries are common in sports and may lead to vision problems or blindness. Therefore, it’s crucial to wear protective eyewear designed for your sport, such as goggles or a helmet with a face shield to prevent injury.
Be sure to follow the rules of your sport and avoid any dangerous or reckless behavior that could put yourself or others at risk. If you sustain an eye injury while playing sports, seek medical attention right away.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
One way to boost eye health is to eat a balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial, as they contain nutrients that help protect your eyes from damage. Some of the best foods for eye health include:
- Collard greens
- Sweet potatoes
4. Take Frequent Breaks
Spending long hours in front of a computer, phone, or tablet screen may strain your eyes and cause blurred vision, headaches, and eye fatigue. To avoid these symptoms, take frequent breaks while using digital devices. Try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps your eyes relax, readjust their focus, and reduce eye strain.
Other ways to reduce digital eye strain include adjusting the brightness and contrast of your screen, positioning your screen at a comfortable distance from your eyes and using artificial tears. Taking regular breaks to stretch your body and blink your eyes can also help.
Book an Eye Exam this Healthy Vision Month
Healthy Vision Month is the perfect time to prioritize your eye health and schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Don’t let vision problems go undetected. Book an eye exam with Cascade Eye & Skin Centers today and take the first step toward better eye health.