Healthy eyes and good vision are important to your quality of life. But even if you may feel like seeing better and your eyes don't have any noticeable symptoms of illness, they may not be as healthy as they should be. An annual eye exam is the best way to protect the health of your eyes. There are also other steps you can take to prevent common vision and eye problems.
Factors that affect eye health
Taking care not only of the eyes, but also of the body as a whole will help maintain visual acuity and eye health for many years.
Factors affecting eye health that you can influence include:
- Proper Nutrition – Your eyes depend on vitamins and nutrients to protect against eye diseases that cause blindness, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma .
- Exposure: Eye damage can be caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun , as well as exposure to toxic chemicals at home or at work.
- Smoking – Tobacco smoke increases the risk of certain eye conditions that can lead to blindness .
- Health conditions: High blood pressure, diabetes, and other problems increase the risk of eye disease and vision loss. You may be predisposed to these conditions, but the lifestyle choices you make can affect how they are treated.
- Injury – This can occur unexpectedly, for example in a car accident, or as a result of activities that involve such a risk, such as playing sports or working in a profession as a welder that carries an increased risk of eye injury due to body metal debris .
- Infections – Your eyes may also be at risk for infections due to improper handling of contact lenses, contact with contaminated water, viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, or infection after an injury.
While you cannot change these factors if they apply to you, they are worth knowing and discussing with your optometrist, especially if you are experiencing vision-related symptoms:
- Family history: Having a family member with eye conditions puts you at higher risk for such problems.
- Older age – Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, poor vision, and dry eyes, for example, can develop as you age .
Why do you need an eye exam?
Scheduling your annual eye exam is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your eyes and vision. Additionally, your eyes provide a clue to your overall health, which may lead you to discover a problem that you might not otherwise (or at least in the near future) have.
There are three main reasons why you should schedule an appointment:
- To test your visual acuity: You need to check it regularly to make sure you see the best you can. Irritating headaches or general fatigue are often caused by minor or insufficient adjustments to your prescription (or no adjustments at all) .
- To detect eye diseases: Many serious eye diseases are often asymptomatic. For example, cataracts often develop so gradually that you may not even be aware that your vision has deteriorated. Early detection of eye disease is important to maintain healthy vision.
- To identify developmental problems: Uncorrected vision problems in children often cause learning and reading difficulties or contribute to other health problems such as dyslexia and ADD. Poor vision in children can often cause amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (rolling the eyes), which can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated at a young age.
Make sure your ophthalmologist knows your complete medical and family history and use your annual checkup as an opportunity to provide up-to-date information.
Common eye diseases
The most common vision problems are known as refractive errors. They include:
Refractive errors occur due to abnormalities in the shape of the eye that prevent light from focusing directly on the retina. Lens aging can also cause refractive errors.
Typically, you will have blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, and the urge to squint. These problems are usually resolved with glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery.
Other eye conditions include:
- Age-related macular degeneration – Starts without symptoms, but can be detected by examining a dilated eye when yellow deposits are seen under the retina. As they grow, or if fluid from the blood vessels enters the eye, you will lose central vision and may lose it completely.
- Cataract : it is a clouding of the lens that causes blurred vision, glare, poor night vision or opaque vision of colors. This can be corrected with surgery.
- Glaucoma : Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye or other factors. At first you have no symptoms (which is why it is sometimes called the "vision hijacker"), but over time, the field of vision narrows and you may lose your vision completely.
- Dry Eye Syndrome : If you don't shed enough tears, your eyes may feel rough, dry, gritty, burning, or burning. You may have heavy eyelids and blurred vision.
- Conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) : This is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball and the inner eyelid. It can be an infectious form, caused by bacteria or a virus, or caused by allergies or chemical exposure. Symptoms include redness, itching, watery eyes, discharge, and more.
- Asthenopia (tired eyes) – This is even more common when using smartphones and other devices. You may experience eyestrain, eye pain, blurred vision, and other symptoms.
- Choroidal nevus : they are moles on the retina. Like moles on the skin, they require an annual observation to see if they grow or change.
- Severe Myopia / Lattice Degeneration: Patients with a lot of myopia (prescription of -6.00 diopters or more) may have structural changes in the back of the eye. These changes can often occur on the far periphery of the eye, and examination of the dilated eye may reveal retinal weakness, a condition called lattice degeneration. Lattice degeneration can increase the risk of retinal holes, tears, and detachments, so monitoring these areas can be helpful.
- Diabetic retinopathy : Diabetes can damage the eyes. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. As you progress, you may notice floaters , blurred central vision, poor night vision, or bleeding in the eye.
- Posterior Vitreous Detachment – This is a sudden increase in floaters or cobwebs when the vitreous detaches from the retina due to aging or trauma. This can lead to a tear or detachment of the retina.
- Retinal detachment : You may suddenly see spots or light, or your vision may become blurry. This condition is urgent and requires immediate treatment to prevent severe vision loss or blindness.
Tips for maintaining eye health
An annual dilated eye exam can ensure that eye problems are identified as early as possible, often before symptoms appear. In addition, there are several ways to protect the health of your eyes.
- Eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables (especially carrots and dark green vegetables). Also include fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Stop smoking or never start.
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you are overweight.
- Get the amount of daily exercise recommended for your health.
- Wear safety glasses when playing sports and at work. These items are designed to prevent eye damage from injury or exposure to toxic substances.
- Clean, disinfect, and handle contact lenses properly to avoid contamination. Dispose of them in the same manner as recommended.
- Talk to your doctor about managing high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Take a break when using the screen or doing any other activity that requires constant eye focus. Remember 20/20/20: Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
Get the word of drug information
Some people can live most of their lives without major eye health problems, while others are less fortunate. The risk to your vision depends on your diagnosis. Do your best to keep your eyesight and get regular exams. While you may not believe something is wrong, it is better to confirm than assume.