It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul— whether that’s true or not, they’re definitely our windows to the world around us. The American Optometric Association has designated March National Save Your Vision Month to promote eye health awareness. This March, we’re looking at 5 things you can do now to protect your vision in the long term.
Get a comprehensive eye exam yearly. If possible, get an exam that includes eye dilation, which can detect many common eye diseases not long after their onset, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. These conditions don’t typically have any warning signs, so you may not otherwise know you have them until they have significantly progressed.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule. With all the time we’ve spent using digital devices in the past year, many of us may feel our eyes getting weaker. One way to combat eye fatigue and digital eyestrain is the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
Wear protective eyewear. This includes sunglasses, which can help delay the formation of cataracts and prevent retinal damage. Not all sunglasses are created equal, so make sure you’re wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. It’s also important to wear goggles, safety shields, and eye guards whenever you’re doing an activity that requires it, such as sports or home repairs. For many jobs, too, proper eyewear is a daily requirement.
Maintain a healthy diet. You probably already know about carrots, which are rich in beta-carotene that your body uses to make Vitamin A. Dark leafy greens like spinach and collard greens also contribute to good eye health, since they are rich in vitamins C and E as well as several minerals and antioxidants. The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood can also help protect your vision, specifically against age-related macular degeneration.
Know your family history of eye health. Many eye conditions (such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and even near- and farsightedness) appear to have at least some genetic basis, so if someone in your family has an eye disease, you may be at an increased risk. Sharing this information with your healthcare provider can lead to an early diagnosis and treatment.For more tips and information on how to obtain a family history, check out the blog post we made for National Family Health History Day.
If you’d like to talk about your eye health or schedule a vision screening, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to make an appointment. As always, stay healthy and stay safe!
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to educate ourselves about this condition that affects over 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness today. There is no cure for glaucoma, so early detection and treatment are essential for preserving vision.
Glaucoma is actually not a single disease, but rather a group of diseases that progressively damage the optic nerve. The most common form, primary open-angle glaucoma, involves deterioration of the optic nerve tissue that is gradual and painless. For this reason, those affected may lose a significant portion of their vision without even noticing. Another type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma, which can be acute or chronic. Acute angle-closure glaucoma may be accompanied by symptoms such as:
Pain and redness in the eye
Halos or colored rings appearing around lights
Nausea and vomiting
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency, so you should go to the emergency room or ophthalmologist immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Both primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma involve an increase in intraocular pressure, which is the pressure inside your eye. This happens when there is either an overproduction of fluid inside your eye or improper drainage of it.
The best way to protect yourself from glaucoma is to get regular comprehensive eye examinations. If detected early enough, there are a variety of glaucoma treatments that help reduce pressure in the eye and slow the damage to the optic nerve, including medications, surgery, and drainage implants. You should also be aware of the risk factors of glaucoma, which include:
Age: People over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Race: Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Alaskan people are at an increased risk for certain types of glaucoma.
Family history: If someone in your family has had glaucoma, you may also be at an increased risk for developing it.
Eye injury: Past trauma to the eye can cause intraocular pressure to increase, increasing the risk of glaucoma in the future.
Medical conditions: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia may have a greater risk of glaucoma.
Eye anatomy: Having thin corneas, sensitive optic nerves, or extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness may increase risk of glaucoma.
Medications: Prolonged use of corticosteroids may increase risk of secondary glaucoma.
The National Eye Institute predicts that the number of Americans with glaucoma could double over the next three decades. Educating yourself about it now is a smart step, and you can now share what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Enjoy the rest of the month, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!