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It’s no surprise to many of you that over the years our vision changes. Yearly eye exams are crucial to discovering the development of any eye-disease processes in their earliest phases. Common eye disorders leading to loss of vision are:
Cataracts - when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and vision gets blurry. You may have trouble seeing at night or in dim light. You may see halos around objects and be sensitive to glare. Cataracts are treated by removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear lens implant. Risk factors for developing cataracts include:
- unprotected exposure to sunlight
- high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- previous eye injury or surgery
- family history of cataracts
Glaucoma - can cause vision loss from high fluid pressure in the eye or poor circulation causing damage to the optic nerve. There are no early symptoms of this disease, which is why it’s important to have a dilated eye exam yearly. Treatment may include eye drops, laser treatment, or surgery. Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:
- family history of glaucoma
- past eye injury
- high eye pressure or low blood pressure
- African or Hispanic ancestry
- high levels of farsightedness or nearsightedness
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) - occurs when the macula, or central part of the tissue at the back of the eye (the retina), becomes damaged. This may cause you to lose central vision. You see only parts of letters, colors may be less vivid, or straight lines may appear wavy. Reading or driving becomes very difficult. Treatment may involve nutritional supplements, dietary changes, laser treatment, or eye injections for the “wet” type of AMD. Risk factors for developing AMD include:
- family history of AMD
- exposure to ultraviolet light (unprotected sun exposure)
- lack of nutrients reaching the retina
Two other retinal disorders are:
Diabetic Retinopathy - may occur with chronic high blood sugars. Treatment may involve laser surgery. Prevent damage to your retina by maintaining good blood sugar control, as well as managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Retinal Detachment - a medical emergency where the retina separates from the back of the eye. If you see many new “floaters” (small dark specks that seem to float across your vision), flashes of light, or a “curtain” seems to drop over your eye, see your eye care physician right away.
Tips for Healthy Eyes:
- Protect your eyes from too much sun (wear sunglasses that block UV radiation and wear a wide-brimmed hat).
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet with fresh vegetables and fruits, and fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
- Maintain normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Marla LeFevre, RN
Director of Health Services